This Article is From Jan 09, 2020

Work On Karnataka's Jesus Statue Stalled As BJP Questions Land Allotment

Jesus Christ statue: The BJP has criticised Congress leader DK Shivakumar's involvement in the project, accusing him of "appeasement politics".

The Church has asked Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa to resolve the issue at the earliest.


The proposed giant statue of Jesus Christ at Kapalabetta in Karnataka's Ramanagara district has run into further controversy, with the ruling BJP claiming that land for the project had been allotted through "illegal means" at a time when the Congress was in power. 

Congress leader DK Shivakumar had helped clear the project, going as far as to personally fund the acquisition of government land. He has vehemently rejected accusations of "appeasement politics" levelled against him by ruling party leaders.

Although the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bengaluru has requested Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa to not politicise the issue, work on the project has been put on hold for now in anticipation of possible legal challenges. "In the Bible, it is called Calvary. But in Kannada scriptures, it is called Kapalabetta. It is government land only, but it has been used for centuries. We want to renovate and plan something new. He (Shivakumar) advised us that you cannot do this in government land. We then gave applications to the government," Chinraj, a parishioner, told NDTV.

Mr Shivakumar told NDTV that members of the Christian community wanted the 114-foot statue built on the plot of land because it was of great religious importance to them. "When I was the Cooperation Minister in SM Krishna's government, they wanted to have this land for the development of the Church, the Jesus statue. There has been a Jesus statue, cross on the land for the past 300-400 years, so they wanted to develop it," he said.

The request was made again when Siddaramaiah was the Chief Minister. "I said, once again give an application. He was kind enough and asked it to be processed and the cabinet got it allotted. We got it cleared by the cabinet -- I was also part of the cabinet -- and I assured them that whatever the cost of the land, it would be cleared from my personal expenditure. I have (constructed) hundreds of temples in this manner also," Mr Shivakumar said.

However, BJP state general secretary N Ravikumar cited allegations that the land allotment clearances were procured illegally. "We are taking a stand on the basis of the law and official reports. Our government will take a stand on the statue only after receiving relevant reports. We are not against Christianity, we are not against Muslims. We are not against any religion. Jesus Christ is like Buddha, like Krishna, like Shiva," he said.

Mr Shivakumar said that the project cannot be stopped legally. "(At) hundreds of places, temples and mutts have been built without permission. This is being seen by the entire world. (With) small, small incidents, we are creating a lot of enemies. The world is looking at Bangalore," he said.

Although the Christian community in Kapalabetta is ready to contribute towards the statue construction - one lakh rupees from each house - the project remains on hold for now. "The government has questioned the legality of the land. I met the chief minister and made a personal request that this not be turned into a political issue, because faith is important to us. We have told the chief minister, who is a good man. He has been considerate to us in our minority development council..." Dr Rev Peter Machado, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bengaluru, told NDTV.

Chinraj claimed that outside elements were responsible for blocking the project. "To be very honest, we are all brothers here in Kanakapura taluk and even the non-Christian communities are very supportive. This is an issue created by those outside the district," he said, expressing confidence that the government will be supportive.