Days after taking oath as a Cabinet minister in the newly-formed Congress government in Karnataka, Priyank Kharge, the son of All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Mallikarjun Kharge, called for a review of the previous BJP government’s “regressive” policies and laws, including the anti-cow slaughter law, anti-conversion law, and hijab order.
In a tweet he posted Wednesday, Priyank reiterated his party’s manifesto pledge for taking “decisive action” on “organisations spreading hatred amongst communities”. “If any religious or political outfit tries to disrupt peace, spread communal hatred and bring disrepute to Karnataka, our government will not hesitate to tackle them legally or ban them. Even if it is RSS or any other organisation,” he said.
In an interview with The Indian Express, Priyank speaks on a range of these issues and the Congress dispensation’s plans ahead. Excerpts:
What is the Congress’s intention behind planning to ban outfits such as the RSS and the Bajrang Dal?
Let there be no ambiguities. I was asked whether we are looking at a ban on political outfits. My statement is very clear. Any religious, political or social outfits that indulge in creating disharmony, do illegal or unconstitutional activities and are regressive to the economy will be dealt with legally as per law. This applies to RSS or any individual person.
Let us say an individual belonging to a particular outfit does something unconstitutional. Will you take action against the entire outfit?
If two people have personal animosity and one of them who belongs to a particular outfit does something unconstitutional, I cannot ban the entire organisation. It will be dealt with on a case-to-case basis. But why is the BJP running helter-skelter on this issue? If they don’t have anything to hide, what are they afraid of?
Is the decision on reviewing the anti cow-slaughter law an ideological battle or for the economic prosperity of cattle farmers?
It is definitely about economics. The act has neither helped the farmers nor the leather industry. If the act has proved to be great for Karnataka’s economy and has provided more employment, I will definitely pursue it. If being a gau rakshak (cow vigilante) is income-generating, we will include it in the skill development programme.
When the finance department itself has told that the law was going to be counterproductive and that it would cause a huge loss to the exchequer, why did they (BJP) pursue it? Why are they trying to please their Nagpur masters? Karnataka has its own cow slaughter law which has existed since Independence.
You have also stated that you will be reviewing the anti conversion law…
We already have a law for forced conversions. The BJP has twisted the law so badly — and now it is in complete violation of the Constitution and privacy. If you have married an individual of a different community, why should you take permission from a district magistrate? You will have to share all your private data with the magistrate’s office.
The matter regarding the hijab order is now in the Supreme Court. Are you also planning to overturn this BJP government’s order?
We are not overturning the order, but we will review everything. If necessary, we will reject them. Certain matters are in court. For example, the reservation issue. I cannot tamper with it. We will look at all the legal aspects and then take a call.
We are here to give good governance. Earlier, when these regressive policies were introduced, the Telangana government outright said that startups and investors should pack their bags from Karnataka and come to Telangana for better social and physical infrastructure.
The (then) Tamil Nadu finance minister (Palanivel Thiaga Rajan) also said that they had rolled out the red carpet for all the investors who want to come to Tamil Nadu from Karnataka. No investment means no jobs. This results in social unrest and leads to chaos. We need to create space for economic progress. Our state should be made the Number One in the country.
After last year’s controversy surrounding revisions in textbooks, education experts have asked for reprinting of old textbooks. What is your stand?
We are mulling to go back to the old textbooks. There are enough old textbooks is what I am told. But definitely the one BJP has done (introducing revisions) will be withdrawn. They are not facts, the (textbook revision) committee was constituted without rules. The person (head of revision committee Rohith Chakrathirtha) who has reviewed it seems to have extreme knowledge of pornography and not academics.
If his (Chakrathirtha’s) appointment has been illegal and whatever he has suggested is unfactual, we will definitely go by the law.
The BJP has accused the Congress of delaying Cabinet formation and of failing to deliver on poll promises.
Who is the BJP to tell us how to govern? The BJP introduced new laws after overturning our laws. For the last three years, Karnataka has been known for the “40 per cent (commission)”. Why did all other state governments welcome investors to their state? It is because of the BJP’s laws.
The BJP is not able to have one person as the Leader of the Opposition…Yediyurappa was earlier a one-man army. He did not have a Cabinet for two months. We have already formed a Cabinet and provided approval for most of the schemes…we are working on the framework of delivering it. BJP has nothing to worry about. Kannadigas are in safe hands.