Karnataka recalls tender to get SCs/STs to guard temple slippers – The Indian Express

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department has withdrawn a tender that provided ‘reservation’ for people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities to manage footwear stands at two temples in Bengaluru following condemnation from Dalit groups.
The department withdrew the tender citing “technical reasons”. The State SC/ST Commission has sought a report from officials over the issue.
While the tender invited other works as well — supply of puja material, tender coconut, among others — only the job to manage footwear stands was kept ‘reserved’ for applicants from SC/ST categories.
Dated October 31, the tender was issued on November 2, and withdrawn the same day.
The office of the Chief Executive Officer of the department had floated the tender for various stores at Doddaganapathi group of temples at Basavangudi area of Bengaluru. It consists of Sri Doddaganapathi temple, Sri Doddabasavanna temple, and Sri Karanji Anjaneya temple.
State SC/ST Commission member Venkatesh Dodderi said that the tender was withdrawn soon after it was brought to the Commission’s notice. “It was floated based on a circular issued by the (then) Congress government in 2016, which mandated giving reservation for SC/ST communities in managing footwear stands,” Dodderi said.
The 2016 circular had created reservation — 20% for SCs and 5% for STs — in all stores near temple complexes, including puja material stores and others. It later extended reservation even for footwear stands.
Criticising the tender issued by the BJP government, Congress MLA Priyank Kharge said it shows that the government is “practicing untouchability”. He said, “By restricting Dalits to guard slippers, the BJP government is following Manusmriti.”
In a bid to hit back, the state BJP tweeted a copy of the 2016 circular, contending that the then Congress government had restricted Dalits to guard slippers kept outside temples. “BJP has only withdrawn the order,” the ruling party tweeted.
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