Anti-conversion bill: BJP in Karnataka turns table on Congress

Belagavi: The ruling BJP in Karnataka which was expected to face the heat in the assembly on Anti-conversion Bill, turned the tables on the Congress party on Thursday by stating that ‘The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021’, popularly known as Anti-conversion bill, is a mere extension of the draft proposal prepared by the Congress back in 2016.

The Congress which had come fully prepared to nail the BJP on the bill was stumped after the revelation.

Minister for Home, Araga Jnanedra in his opening remarks on the bill said that the Anti-conversion bill is the brainchild of the Congress. Further, Minister for Law, J. Madhuswamy explained that the draft was prepared by the Law Commission as per the directions of the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

He further said that Siddaramaiah, as the then Chief Minister, had ordered to prepare the draft proposal on the prevention of forceful conversions. Stunned Siddaramaiah refuted this and challenged the BJP to prove its claims.

Speaker Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri then read out his notes from the old file and asked him to verify it by himself at his office and adjourned the session briefly.

When the house resumed, Siddaramaiah, after verifying the notes, agreed that the notes were made during his time and tried to defend his position by saying that though he directed for the draft, it never came up before the cabinet and it was never considered till the end of his tenure.

Siddaramaiah, known for his poignant remarks and was expected to question the government on religious freedom, seemed to have lost steam.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the Anti-conversion law is very much necessary to tame those elements who take advantage of the poverty of the people. “Eradicating poverty and helping the poor is different. But, there are elements who take advantage of these things and carry out their agenda of religious conversions. We have seen how people belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe are lured and converted stage by stage,” he remarked.

Siddaramaiah asked Bommai not to be emotional on the issue. Bommai stood up and replied that he is emotional and he wanted Siddaramaiah also to be emotional.

Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy chided Siddaramaiah that he has no morality to speak on the issue of the Anti-conversion Bill. “In fact he had provided the draft to the BJP and posed himself as an icon of secularism.”