Karnataka Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition Siddharamaiah lashed out against the government of Karnataka for its proposal of an anti-conversion bill which he said was used to target minorities in the state and make their lives more difficult. He and other Congress leaders joined the protest by the Federation of Indian Christians at the Suvarna Soudha on Friday in protest against the bill which as elicited widespread outrage for its claims of "forced conversions" of poor Hindus.
"The Government wants to create problems for the Christian community. We will not let it happen," he said. "We want to assure the community that we are with you."
Siddharamaiah said that the Karnataka government headed by Basvaraj Bommai had nothing but malicious intentions in tabling the bill but to cause friction amongst communities in Karnataka. There were no attacks on Christians in Karnataka when the Congress was in power, he said.
The Indian Constitution gives the fundamental right to the people to choose their faith, and practice and preach it. Any law that takes away these rights would be anti-constitutional. They will not stand the test of equity and justice in any court of law. The Government should not attempt any such misadventures, he said. Just because the Government had a majority in the Assembly, it does not mean that it could take anti-people decisions, he said.
He also commended the Christian community in India for their services such as running schools and charity services for people from all walks of life. There were no forced conversions in the state, he claimed. He said that the BJP and the RSS followed Manuwadi ideology that was aimed at creating wedges between groups, for political benefit. The Government was not following the egalitarian philosophy of Basaveshwara, he said.
The proposed anti-conversion Bill, which Karnataka intends to introduce in the ongoing Legislature session, has a provision for jailing those who indulge in mass conversion for a period of three to 10 years and imposing a fine of Rs 1 lakh.