Anti-conversion and Love Jihad bills are likely to tip the Karnataka Assembly; CM says no to discrimination, Cong plans protests

The anti-conversion and “jihad of love” bills are expected to shake up the winter session of the Karnataka Assembly which opened in Belgaum on Monday.

The BJP government led by Basavaraj Bommai in the state decided to table the controversial anti-conversion bill in both the Assembly and the Legislative Council, saying it is necessary to “save the Hindus”. The opposition Congress has threatened to take the government head-on and oppose the bill, calling it discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Some ministers and MPs perceived to be close to the RSS, the ideological source of the BJP, have demanded a total conversion ban and urged the government to also introduce a separate bill banning “love jihad”.

The fierce debate over the alleged widespread conversion of Christian evangelists began three months ago after BJP MP and former minister Goolihatti Shekhar made a sensational revelation to the assembly that her mother had reverted to Hinduism after briefly converting to Christianity to “ward off certain evils which had destroyed family peace.” The demand sparked enormous fury in the state, sparking demands for an anti-conversion law.

CM Bommai said the bill aims to save Hindus, mainly Dalits and STs, from missionaries who “lure” them into a new religion, promising “miracles and economic benefits”.

Speaking to the media, he said: “This bill will not discriminate against Christians. There will be no problem and they can coexist peacefully. Christians are free to follow their religion. It is against doing business in the name of religion.

Christian community leaders have expressed shock at the bill, calling it draconian and unconstitutional. Dr Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bengaluru, said this would make all Christians “second class citizens”. Speaking to the media, he said Catholic churches are not in conversions and if the government proves otherwise, it will close all Christian-run schools, colleges and hospitals in Karnataka.

However, some leaders in the Catholic community admit that foreign funded missionaries like New Life Church, Pentecostal, Zion, Bethel, etc. are in the process of converting.

“Ordinary people don’t know that Christianity is not a monolithic religion. There are hundreds of sects in Christianity. Some sects are in conversion. They represent a danger even for Catholics and old Protestants. The aggressive stance of the BJP government in the state will hurt Catholics and the Protestant Church in South India, as these two are the most visible symbols of Christianity, ”said a priest from Bengaluru.

Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje has called on Bommai to push through the bill in the current session. Interior Minister Araga Jnanedra, who is leading the bill, expressed confidence that the bill will be passed.

V Sunil Kumar, Minister of Energy, Kannada and Culture, said the “anti-jihad of love” bill would also be tabled in the current session of the legislature. Alleging that some Muslim organizations are “trapping Hindu girls in the name of love”, he described it as an indispensable guarantee. The leaders of the Muslim community opposed it, describing it as a tool to harass people.

Opposition Leader Siddaramaiah challenged the Bommai government to move forward with the proposed bills. “These are unconstitutional bills. This makes them second-class citizens. Bommai is unsure of his position. He is not a mass leader. He does so to please the RSS to stay in power. We will oppose it both inside and outside the Assembly, ”said the former CM.

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