The anti-cow slaughter bill passed by the Karnataka legislative assembly on Wednesday remains to become a law as it was not tabled in the upper house on Thursday. The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Protection of Cattle Bill, 2020 was expected to be tabled in the state legislative council for concurrence, but both the houses were adjourned sine die on Thursday.
Although the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has attained the status of a single largest party but the combined Opposition parties' (Congress and Janata Dal Secular) strength is much higher compared to the BJP. In the 75-member house, BJP has 31 members, the Congress 28, JDS 14, 1 chairman and 1 independent. With the present strength, the BJP can only pass the bill if they are backed by the JDS.
The bill becomes a law only when passed in both the houses.
"We were planning to table it in the council. But we had an inkling that the bill would be referred to a legislative committee. We are cleverer than them. Hence, we did not table the bill," Revenue minister R Ashok said.
The JD(S) which is pushed to corner after the Farmers' organisations terming its support to the controversial Karnataka Land Reforms Amendment Bill as an "act of betrayal" and the JD(S) had been consistently opposing the BJP's controversial anti-Cow slaughter Bill since Wednesday evening.
As the Legislative Council chairman, Pratapchandra Shetty read out the Agenda and asked the ruling party to table the contentious Bill, but Deputy Chief Minister, Lakshman Savadi said that in absence of concerned minister, Prabhu Chauhan, who is incharge of Animal Husbandry and Haj & Wakf, the Bill can't be tabled and requested the Chairman to take up the matter on Friday.
Hearing this Congress members like the leader of the Opposition, S. R. Patil and former union minister, C. M. Ibrahim raised objections stating that if the Bill had to be taken it should be taken now itself or else the House be adjourned sine die.
"We are in the middle of elections. Gram Panchayat polls are important, hence, the Council's business need not be extended," the Congress leaders demanded.
After coming out of the Council, Deputy Chief Minister, Lakshman Savadi told IANS that the their party's game plan was to make the Chairman to take the no-confidence motion against him moved by BJP first prior to tabling this Bill. "When that did not happen, we did not wish to give into their game plan. Since Wednesday, we have been demanding the Chairman to list the no-confidence motion into the Agenda but when that did not happen, we decided not to table our Bill," he explained.
Meanwhile a BJP cabinet minister who did not wish to be named told IANS that they were planning to bring this Bill through Ordinance in a week's time. "We did not want to give the Opposition a chance to refer this Bill to the Joint Select Committee, which stops us from implementing this Bill in any form including Ordinance, hence we did not table it," he said and added that in a day or two the BJP will come out with Ordinance in this regard.
Hours before the council was adjourned, former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy tweeted that the BJP's move was hurting farmers. In sixteen tweets, the JDS leader said that the bill was introduced and adapted in a hurry which appears to be an attempt to protect cattle but does not protect the farmers.
"It is an irony that the BJP government which is talking of “ease of doing business” by removing license raj for big industrialists is actually enforcing such license raj on poor farmers. It is also not proper to hold the sellers as responsible in case of slaughter," he said in one of the tweets.
"The most prominent drawback is that of bringing even the male calf and bulls under the Bill’s ambit. It is a common knowledge that the male calves of only native cattle are generally retained and nurtured as they are useful to farmers in farming activities," he added.
The BJP also moved a no-confidence motion against the council chairperson K Pratapchandra Shetty, a Congress MLC, on Wednesday. However, this was not taken up. The motion, if backed by the JDS, would have allowed the BJP to get the council chairperson of their choice.
The bill was passed in the Karnataka assembly on Wednesday amid much furor after Congress and JDS protested in the Well of the House alleging that they were caught off guard. Opposition leader Siddaramaiah alleged that the bill was not in the agenda discussed at the business advisory committee and that none of them had a copy of the bill.
Refusing to accept the opposition demand to discuss the bill on Thursday, it was passed by the BJP without discussion. The Congress boycotted the rest of the session on Wednesday and Thursday. The bill will now be tabled during the next session.
(With IANS inputs)