A six-day legislature session starts today in Karnataka. One of the highlights will be the planned introduction by the ruling BJP of two bills on issues that have already stirred up debate not just in Karnataka but elsewhere in the country too. One bill is against so-called "love jihad" while the other is against cow slaughter.
BJP state leaders had tweeted and spoken about the two bills and their planned introduction was repeated at a BJP meet in Belagavi on the eve of the legislature session.
"Ideologically, BJP has always been for the (bill) to stop cow slaughter, so we must bring it. India, Hindustan, cows have a special place in our hearts and families. We treat cows as our own family members. We can't afford to slaughter them inhumanly, barbarically. I think it is a sensible issue and we need to take this to a logical end. We should bring in a law for this. On love jihad, the party is taking decisions after proper consultations. I will abide by whatever the party decides," Health Minister K Sudhakar said.
Many in the opposition see the talk of the bills as being related to panchayat polls that are scheduled in the state later this month.
Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed spoke to the media as he entered the Assembly today and said, "Let them bring the Bills, then we will do what we need to do. This is just a gimmick of the BJP - the love jihad, the cow slaughter. They are doing this because local zilla panchayat elections are coming and they want to take the Hindu vote benefit. Why haven't they done this till now? They were talking about it even when Yediyurappa was chief minister back in 2008. This is being done only because of the gram panchayat elections.
Former deputy chief minister G Parameshwara of the Congress earlier said, "The party will take a stand. All these issues have a far-reaching effect."
Former Home Minister MB Patil, also from the Congress, said, "Love jihad has been struck down by the Supreme Court. Let us see the (bill) draft. Anything illegal or trying to harass anybody will not be tolerated."
Congress leaders said they would want to focus on farmers' issues and the way the state government was handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has said his government would work to end "love jihad". "We have seen many reports in newspapers and in the electronic media about conversions due to love jihad. I discussed this with officials before coming here. I don't know about other states, but in Karnataka we are going to end this. Luring of young girls with the use of money or love is something we are taking seriously," he said.
Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are exploring legal arrangements to check the alleged practice of "love jihad".
Last month, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had quoted an Allahabad High Court order on religious conversion for marriages and invoked a Hindu funeral chant to warn people against it.