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Updated on: Thursday, December 23, 2021, 06:47 PM IST

Even Samrat Ashok, Babasaheb Ambedkar converted to Buddhism: Congress' Siddaramaiah opposes Karnataka Anti-Conversion Bill in assembly

Former Karnataka CM and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah | Twitter

Former Karnataka CM and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah | Twitter

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The contentious "Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021", popularly known as "Anti-conversion Bill", was passed by Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Thursday, amidst din. The assembly witnessed a heated debate between the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress over the bill.

While the BJP said that the bill was first drafted by the Congress government in 2016, the Opposition party alleged that the new bill is completely different from the old bill.

Congress partly vehemently opposed the bill, calling it "anti people", "inhuman", "anti constitutional", "anti poor" and "draconian", and urged that it should not be passed for any reason and should be withdrawn by the government.

The bill was passed by a voice vote, even as Congress members were protesting from the well of the House, demanding continuation of the debate on the bill, that began this morning. They were also expressing their anguish against some remarks made by Minister K S Eshwarappa, during his intervention in the debate.

Speaking on the bill, Congress leader and former CM Siddaramaiah said that religious conversion has been going on for centuries and even Samrat Ashok and Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar had converted to Buddhism.

Taking to Twitter, Siddaramaiah, the leader of opposition in Karnataka assembly, said that the Constitution of India makes forced conversion or conversion after luring someone a punishable offence and thus the Congress is opposed to the Act. Reacting to the BJP’s claim that the Bill was first drafted when Siddaramaiah was the CM, the Congress leader said that there was no debate or ratification in the draft of the bill during the Congress government.

“In the parliamentary system, the chief minister is defined as the first in the peers. As the Chief Minister, I was not one to take a unilateral decision, I had signed the draft bill to which was to be debated at every Cabinet meeting…It was in November 2015 that I signed the Conversion Prohibition Act. Even though we were in office for two and a half years after signing the bill, we have never tried to bring it up before the cabinet because our government was not interested in such a bill,” he said.

Congress seemed to be on a back foot with the ruling BJP alleging that the bill was actually "initiated" by the Siddaramaiah led Congress administration, and placed documents to support its claim before the House.

With Siddaramaiah alleging RSS' hand behind this bill, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, "RSS is committed to anti conversion, it is not a hidden secret, it is an open secret. Why did the Congress government in 2016 initiate the bill during its tenure following the RSS' policy? It is because Congress CM in Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh had brought a similar law. You are a party to this bill." Bommai said the bill is both constitutional and legal, and aimed at getting rid of the menace of religious conversion. "It is for a healthy society.... Congress was indulging in vote bank politics by opposing it now, their double standard is clear today."

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Published on: Thursday, December 23, 2021, 06:45 PM IST
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