Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka assembly Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said the Congress will oppose if the government tries to bring in legislation against "love jihad" and cow slaughter in the state during the coming winter session. His comments come in the wake of the Uttar Pradesh governor giving assent to an ordinance against forcible or fraudulent religious conversions, which provides for imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine of up to Rs 50,000 under different categories.
"Love jihad" is a coinage used by right wing activists to refer to the alleged campaign of Muslims forcing Hindu girls to convert in the guise of love. A delegation of Muslim leaders today met Siddaramaiah and held discussion as the government has decided to introduce the anti-cow slaugher bill during the state legislature session starting from December 7.
"Why has anti-cow slaughter legislation not been implemented in BJP ruled state of Goa? Why Karnataka? Muslim leaders had come to meet me expressing fear that if the law is enacted some of them will have to face difficulty and losses. We will oppose it strongly if the matter comes up for discussion during the session," Siddaramaiah was quoted as saying by his office in a release.
The Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan had recently said the anti-cow slaughter bill will be introduced during the winter session. He had also said if the law was enacted, along with prohibition on slaughter, sale and use of beef, illegal transportation of animals for slaughtering would be stopped.
Terming the ordinance enacted in Uttar Pradesh, which among others also curbs religious conversions only for the sake of marriage, as unconstitutional, Siddaramaiah said after crossing a certain age everyone has the right to marry a person of choice. He said there is nothing in the constitution which specifies that a person has to choose a life partner from a specific community.
"This ordinance is without any sanity or discretion," he claimed. Stating that inter-religious marriages have been happening in the county between Hindus and Muslims from the time of the Mughals, the former Chief Minister said the constitution does not provide for implementing such a law.
If such a law is questioned in the court, it will get dismissed.If the government goes ahead with bringing in such a law despite it being against the constitution, it will prove the true intentions of the government, he said. "It makes clear the malicious intent of the BJP to disturb peace in the society," he said.
Last month Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had said that the government will take strong measures to put an end to religious conversion in the name of love and marriage. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai too had said the government was considering a law against religious conversion for the sake of marriage, even as several BJP leaders had put forward similar demands.
However, reacting to Siddaramaih's statement, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy said there was no proposal of enacting a law against religious conversion for the sake of marriage before the government for now. "I don't know why he (Siddaramaiah) is issuing statements by guesswork. Being the scrutiny committee chairman,I can say that no such proposal has come before me yet," he added.