Karnataka: Halal meat issue being raised to disturb peace, says Siddaramaiah

By raising divisive issues the BJP and its affiliates are disturbing peace in the state which will have ripple effects on the economic growth in the state, Siddaramaiah said.

Former Karnataka chief minister and Opposition leader in Karnataka Assembly Siddarmaiah speaks during a press conference, as KPCC President D K Shivakumar looks on, at KPCC office, in Bengaluru, Sunday, April 3, 2022. (PTI)

The issue of whether people should consume halal meat or any other form of meat is a non-issue but is being made out to be a major issue by right-wing groups to sow the seeds of division in society, Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said in a joint press conference with state Congress president D K Shivakumar on Sunday.

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“Unnecessarily they are raising issues that affect relationships and ties between people and communities. These are not issues that are relevant to people or the lives of people. They are raising these issues and disturbing the peace in society,” Siddaramaiah said, during the course of criticising the economic policies of the BJP governments in the state and Centre.

The joint press conference by Siddaramaiah and the KPCC chief was the first since senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on April 1 called for unity among top party leaders in Karnataka while going into the Assembly polls scheduled for April 2023.

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The former CM’s remarks also came amid unease in the Karnataka Congress on taking on the BJP directly on issues being pushed by pro-Hindutva groups with the tacit support of the ruling BJP like the hijab controversy, the issue of allowing Muslim traders in temples, and a call for the boycott of halal meat by Hindus by linking it to the Muslim community.

“For how many centuries, the practice of halal has been in existence. It is their practice, let them do it, what is your practice you do it. Do we not cut goats during temple festivals? The blood is strewn around. For regular festivals we kill goats. They believe meat with blood is not good for health. It is their belief, let them do it,” Siddaramaiah said.

“Do we not buy halal meat and eat it? We eat it often,” he said.

By raising divisive issues the BJP and its affiliates are disturbing peace in the state which will have ripple effects on the economic growth in the state, Siddaramaiah said.

“There is a connection between law and order and economic development. If there is no law and order there will not be investments, without investments there will be no development of industries, without investments jobs cannot be created, if there are no jobs then people do not have money in their hands, if there is no money then there is no GDP growth – the development of the state and the country will suffer as a consequence. These things are all linked and this should be understood,” he said.

The Congress will highlight issues that concern people and not issues that are irrelevant to their lives or livelihood, he said. “We are pro-farmers, we are for the youth, we want to tackle unemployment and we will fight for issues that concern the common man,” he said.

At the recent meeting with Rahul Gandhi, senior leaders like Siddaramaiah and Congress leader in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had raised concerns over the Congress not being vocal enough on issues concerning minorities, backward classes, and Dalits. They warned the party that it could lead to long-term supporters going away to other parties.

The call by the senior leaders came amid a gag order issued to state leaders against speaking out on provocative issues like the hijab controversy, the ban on Muslims in some temple festivals in the coastal region, and a current controversy over halal meat that emerged on the eve of the Kannada New Year when Hindus celebrate by eating meat.

“We have been celebrating Ugadi over the last two days. Ugadi symbolizes the sweet and sour in life but the Central government has given only sour experiences to the common man,” Siddaramaiah said at the press conference on Sunday.

The rise in the prices of fuel, LPG, and fertilizers was raised by the Congress leaders.

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