In last-minute bid, Karnataka govt fails to table anti-conversion Bill in Council

It will be taken up in next session, says Bommai on a day of drama in Upper House 

Published: 25th December 2021 05:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th December 2021 05:37 AM   |  A+A-

Council session in progress at Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi on Friday

Express News Service

BELAGAVI: Though the State Government managed to get the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, passed in the Assembly by a voice vote, it could not table the  Bill in the Council despite making all possible attempts at the fag-end of the winter session on Friday. 

Even as the government was keen to table the Bill, commonly called the anti-conversion Bill, in the Upper House, opposition parties resisted unitedly and prevented its tabling which was not on the day’s agenda.
Having enough numbers in the Assembly, the government did not have any trouble adopting the contentious Bill, despite a massive uproar by the Opposition. The ruling party faced several obstacles in the Council as it not only lacked the required strength, but the Bill was also not listed on the agenda.

On Friday, dramatic developments unfolded after the Council resumed in the second half. Since the Assembly was adjourned sine die by 2pm, members of the Upper House too thought the session would end after the first half of the day.

Chairman Basavaraj Horatti surprised many by adjourning the session till 3pm. A few Opposition members, who had even booked their return flights to Bengaluru in the evening, were in a dilemma. According to sources, the government had planned to table the Bill in the Council in the second half of the session, but was in a state of confusion, with some of its own legislators having left for Bengaluru. Several BJP legislators did try to convince Horatti in the latter’s chamber that they be allowed to table the Bill. But Congress legislators S R Patil, Narayanaswamy and B K Hariprasad opposed it.

However, when the House resumed at 4pm, the ruling party tried to table the Bill, but the Congress and JDS opposed it. Patil, Narayanswamy, Hariprasad, CM Ibrahim and Marithibbegowda said the tradition of the House was being violated as the Bill was not on the agenda.

“Let the House first discuss the subjects which are on the agenda and then table the Bill. And if it is not possible, adjourn the house till Monday and then table it. We don’t have any objection,’’ said Patil. When some ruling party members insisted that Horatti allow them to table the Bill, commotion prevailed with both sides indulging in a verbal duel.

To overcome the stalemate, Horatti adjourned the House for five minutes and convened a meeting of five members from the ruling and opposition groups in his chamber. Last-ditch attempts to table the Bill, too, failed as the Opposition insisted that the chairman adjourn proceedings till Monday. When the House resumed, Horatti adjourned it sine die.

Later, when asked why the government failed to pass the Bill in the Council, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the ruling party did not have the required numbers to get it through in the Council, and that some members were not present. “We did not want to bring it forcibly and hence, have decided to table it in the next session,’’ he added.

‘Draft wasn’t placed before Cabinet in 2016’ 
bengaluru: A day after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party embarrassed the Congress by furnishing documents showing that the draft of a Bill similar to the anti-conversion Bill had been prepared by the Congress government in 2016, the then law minister TB Jayachandra has clarified that it had not come before the Cabinet. “It is true that the proposal was made. But when it was not discussed in the Cabinet and did not get its nod, the government cannot be made a party to it. I also did not sign any draft,” he told reporters in Sira while campaigning for the ensuing ULB polls. “It was nothing but a piece of paper floating around departments. Making it an issue is not relevant as it was not even discussed in political circles then,” he claimed. ENS


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