The lack of political support for Karnataka Prevention of Superstitious Practices Bill has ensured that it remains an idea on paper. It seems that while several politicians have paid lip-service to the anti-superstition bill, not many are giving it the support that it requires to become a law. MLAs cutting across party lines are reported to be opposing bill.
The Times of India reports that the Lingayat lobby in Karnataka pushed the Karnataka government to introduce the controversial anti-superstition bill as a tribute to Kannada scholar and researcher M M Kalburgi, who was recently murdered by unknown assailants. Kalburgi was among Kannada writers who vocally supported the new law while Channamalla Swamy headed a group of progressive pontiffs supporting it.
According to the bill, practices such as bettale seve (nude worship), made snana (practice rolling on the leaves on which Brahmins have eaten) etc., will become criminal offences. Violators will face rigorous imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of up to Rs 50,000, or both.
The Indian Express reported on August 31 that the Congress government in Karnataka buckled under pressure of religious groups, which were against the bill last year. It had shelved plans to table a draft of the bill in the state legislature.
Law minister TB Jayachandra told ToI, â€śI wanted to bring a law against superstition. But MLAs cutting across party lines advised me not to pursue it. When I have no backing in the legislature, how do I go ahead with it?â€ť
Prof S Japhet of the National Law School of India University, who co-authored the bill, said Kalburgi's killing supports the enactment of the legislation as an apt tribute to the fearless rationalist. He pointed out how the Maharashtra government enacted an anti-superstition law after the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar there. Political will seems to be in short supply, though.
â€śThe Chief Minister is always for bills that offer reprieve to the poor,â€ť The Law minister said.
He said the public response received through the media was negative.
â€śWe wanted acceptance (of the bill) by a majority of the people. As the feedback wasnâ€™t encouraging, we couldn't move forward. Even if I'm convinced about the bill, it has to find acceptance among the masses. Those who want this law have no voice; those who oppose it received a lot of publicity,â€ť the minister added.