Belagavi: Former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Tuesday appealed to Congress and the JD(S) legislators not to oppose the anti-religious conversion bill as it is in the interest of the nation and has to be passed unanimously.
”I request the Congress and the JD(S) leaders not to oppose the anti-conversion bill we are introducing. The bill has to be passed unanimously,” Yediyurappa told reporters.
He said the law is not something special as many states have already introduced it.
Stating that everyone wished to stop religious conversion, Yediyurappa appealed to the two parties not to oppose it and requested them to ensure that the law is passed unanimously.
Denying that the BJP was politicizing a sentimental issue, the senior party leader said many states had introduced the bill, keeping in mind the interest of the people of the country and Karnataka was no exception.
”There is nothing to hide in this bill. That’s why I am seeking everyone’s cooperation,” Yediyurappa said.
Meanwhile, Congress state chief D K Shivakumar said his party had been opposing the law from the beginning.
”This law is against the Constitution and so we have to oppose it. There is an attempt to disturb peace in the state and divert public attention for political reasons,” he told reporters.
He claimed that as there is already a law banning forced conversion, none could snatch the religious freedom of any individual. This is applicable to all religions, including Buddhists and Christians, he said.
When many foreigners are taking part in religious events of ISKCON and Amritanandamayi Devi Ashram and chanting ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna’, this law will create an uneasy atmosphere, the Congress leader opined.
”People respect our country because it is secular and peaceful. Here everyone is allowed to live peacefully. In such a situation, attempts are being made to disturb the atmosphere. Their focus is only on the Christians,” Shivakumar alleged.
The Congress leader claimed that despite the country being ruled by the Mughals, Portuguese, and the British in the past, the minority population was ”still less”. He added that Christians are merely 2.3 percent of the total population.
”All the leaders prefer the admission of their children in Christian-run schools and get treatment in missionary hospitals. I too studied in a missionary school, but no one asked me to convert,” Shivakumar said.
The anti-conversion bill was tabled in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Tuesday amid stiff opposition from Congress.
Shivakumar even tore papers on his table, protesting against the bill by calling it ”draconian and anti-constitution”.
The ”Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021” provides for the protection of the right to freedom of religion and prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, or by any fraudulent means.
Many Christian bodies have opposed the bill, saying that it was against the Constitution and an attack on the secular fabric of the country.