National

Karnataka: From Anti Cow-slaughter Bill To Hijab, Any Regressive Law Can Go, Says Minister Priyank Kharge

Minister Priyank Kharge, who handles the rural development and panchayati raj portfolios in the new Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah also stated that the focus of the Congress government is 'not politics, just economics."

Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge
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Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge in an interview on Tuesday stated the anti cow slaughter bill introduced by the erstwhile BJP government in Karnataka as an impediment to the state's progress. He also mentioned it entails massive financial burdens.

Mr Kharge, who handles the rural development and panchayati raj portfolios in the new Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah, also mentioned explicitly that from anti cow-slaughter law to hijab, any rule by the BJP government can be scrapped by the present government if found to be regressive and against the state's economic and social growth.

When asked about a possible political backlash, the minister said the focus of the Congress government is "not politics, just economics".

The anti-cow slaughter bill, he said, was drawn up only to please the BJP's "bosses in Nagpur". It has made neither farmers, nor the industry happy.

Citing a note of the finance department written during the BJP rule, Kharge said, "This bill may be reconsidered in view of huge financial implications. We cannot agree to this kind of expenditure when we are struggling to make ends meet. The next two years, we expect a contraction in budget size and the cabinet's decision can be put on hold."

As an example, he cited the plan to provide fodder to livestock which, according to BJP's calculations, involves ₹ 70 each animal each day.

"I do not know how they came up with this figure. But their calculations mean an expenditure of a whopping ₹ 5,240 crore to feed the state's 1.7 lakh livestock", he said

When asked about the political repercussions of these measures, Kharge pointed to the huge mandate received by the party last month in the state's assembly election.

"We are looking at the economic growth of Karnataka… farmers, traders, MSMEs... we have got a huge mandate against this ideology. We have got a huge mandate to keep Karnataka on the path of progress... as a government is it not my priority to keep every child in school? If a certain policy is regressive and is keeping my children out of school, will I keep it or repeal it?" he said.

The Congress, which won 135 of Karnataka's 244 seats, had promised in its manifesto that it would "take strong action against organisations like Bajrang Dal that promote enmity and hatred among different communities".

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