Former Karnataka Minister Siddaramaiah shot back, saying that the draft prepared in 2016 is completely different from the current Bill the state government has introduced.

Collage of Siddaramaiah and Madhuswamy speaking at the AssemblyLeft: Madhuswamy/Twitter/ANI. Right: Siddaramaiah/PTI
news Politics Thursday, December 23, 2021 - 15:50

A war of words erupted between the Congress and the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly over the new anti-conversion Bill that was tabled a couple of days ago, with the two political parties exchanging barbs over.

Karnataka Minister JC Madhuswamy, speaking on the Bill, said that the Social Welfare Department was the one who first drafted the Bill against forced conversions and that the BJP has only ‘added some elements’ to it. 

“In 2016, the Social Welfare Department, and the Law Commission of Karnataka had prepared a Bill, but it was not placed before the Cabinet. We are just taking that Bill forward by adding 2-3 more elements to it,” the Minister said in the Assembly. 

“The then chief minister (Siddaramaiah) had told the law commission to prepare a draft Bill. The draft Bill was prepared and the draft Bill was scrutinized (sic),” said Madhuswamy when one of the legislators questioned him.

The Minister’s statement saw a sharp counter from the Congress party, with former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah dismissing the claim. 

“The Bill was never introduced, discussed or passed in the Cabinet meeting.The draft prepared in 2016 is completely different from what the current state govt has drafted in 2021,” Siddaramaiah, who is the leader of opposition in the Assembly, said.

When Madhuswamy again reiterated that it had been scrutinized, Siddaramaiah asked him to show the proof.

Earlier, Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar had said that the Anti-conversion Bill will be opposed by the Congress party in Assembly and the bill will be defeated in the council, where the BJP does not have a majority. Former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that the JD(S) opposes the anti-conversion Bill. He said, instead, backwards and poor people's hands should be strengthened.

The Bill was tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday, December 21, and the opposition as well as activists, citizens and legal experts have voiced concerns over the Bill, that aims to prohibit “unlawful conversion” from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means. 

Also read: In 10 points: Karnataka’s anti-conversion Bill more stringent than Uttar Pradesh law

With IANS inputs