Karnataka Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah’s last ditch effort to table a watered-down version of the anti-superstition Bill before the 2018 Assembly Elections, is facing resistance once again, as the opposition ups its ante against the tabling of the Bill.
Despite the chief minister’s determination to table the Bill, it is facing stiff resistance not only from the opposition, but also from within the party, who fear alienating voters before the upcoming election.
According to a source, several Congress leaders are opposing the Bill as they fear it would alienate their voters. “Caste politics has always prevailed in Karnataka. Some leaders, who are from the belt in Karnataka, where superstitious practices are rampant feel that the Bill will not be accepted by their voters and are opposing it. On the other hand, the lobby, which wants the Bill to be passed is also pressuring the government. But the decision has been made. The Bill will be tabled in the winter session,” told the News Minute.
On Tuesday, Karnataka Revenue Minister, Kagodu Thimmappa had said that a section of people was blocking the bill and the government cannot bring in such a legislation unless it gets widespread support.
“The bill has been Siddaramaiah’s project since he came to power and he is determined to table it during the winter session. Several stringent provisions of the original bill had been dropped due to difficulty in enforcement. Practices like ‘made snana', have been excluded,” Thimmappa added.
The controversial ritual of ‘made snana’ involves devotees rolling over the leftovers on plantain leaves on which Brahmins have consumed their meal.
The original Bill banned practices and customs such as human sacrifice, exorcism, black magic, witchcraft, ‘aghori', ‘made snana', rituals that promote self-inflicted injuries, throwing of infants from a height on a bed of thorns, parading women in the nude, sexual exploitation by invoking supernatural powers, and killing animals by biting their neck.
Practices such as ‘made snana’, astrology and animal sacrifices will be dropped from the draft bill, according to Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa, The Hindu reported.
A few BJP members, who have also openly opposed the Bill, have now threatened to oppose the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifices and Other Inhuman Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill by mobilising public opinion against it, the Times of India reported.
BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the Vidhana Parishad, KS Eshwarappa, has openly opposed the bill by saying it is against the beliefs of Hindus and interferes with their freedom of religious beliefs.
“Some of the practices in the bill have been part of the Hindu tradition for generations and it will curb their freedom of practising any religion. It is a breach of fundamental rights,” Eshwarappa said.
Countering Eshwarappa’s claim, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru MP, Shobha Karandlaje, said that the BJP leaders were yet to take a look at the new version of the bill before deciding to oppose it.
“Only after looking at the bill and if it is acceptable to our voters, will we support it,” she added.
After several rounds of discussions in the state cabinet and with experts, the ruling Congress has decided to tone down the anti-superstition Bill.
A Cabinet subcommittee, headed by Thimmappa, drafted the Bill and referred it to the Law Department for finalising various provisions.
However, a senior professor, instrumental in drafting the original Bill told TOI that many people were in favour of the Bill but said that in the absence of political consensus, it would be foolhardy to introduce a legislation and lose political capital, especially in an election year.
“Though Siddaramaiah is keen on the bill, his party men have been opposing it. He has no other go, but to give it up in the election year as the BJP could use it to their advantage,” he added.