The Congress has reiterated its opposition to the BJP government's decision to introduce a new bill against religious conversions in Karnataka.
The bill is expected to be introduced in the Winter Session of the assembly that will begin in Belagavi from Monday and continue until December 24.
Ahead of the session, Siddaramaiah, a former chief minister and current leader of the opposition, argued there was already a law against forceful conversions in the state.
Siddaramaiah was quoted by ANI as saying, “Let government take action in case of any forceful conversion. This law [proposed anti-conversion bill] is being brought to target a particular religion. Congress will oppose it tooth and nail.”
Karnataka Congress unit chief D.K. Shivakumar had declared on Sunday the proposed law targeted Christians. Shivakumar was quoted by The Indian Express as saying, “In whatever form the government introduces the bill, we will oppose it... The government is attempting to undermine the contributions of the Christian community in education and other fields by proposing this law. This is being done by the party with an eye on the 2023 assembly polls.”
Shivakumar argued the proposed anti-conversion bill would deter investment in the state.
Despite the criticism, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday said his government would go ahead with the bill.
Bommai was quoted by NDTV as saying, “A majority of people want to ban religious conversion. The law department is reviewing it (draft bill). After the review, it will be cleared in the cabinet meeting... In all probabilities, the draft rule proposed by the law department would be approved and the subject may come up for discussion [in the assembly session].”
Bommai claimed religious conversion was not good for society. He also argued people of all religions need not panic over the proposed legislation.
There has been a spate of attacks targeting Christians in different parts of Karnataka in recent weeks. A fact-finding report by United Christian Forum (UCF), Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and United Against Hate claimed attacks had increased following announcement of plans for the anti-conversion law.
“While 27 such attacks took place during the first 272 days of this year, five incidents took place between October and mid-November alone...,” The Indian Express quoted the report as saying.