'Progressive' Hindu pontiffs and Hindu Right tussle over anti-superstition Bill

  • Sudipto Mondal, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
  • Updated: Nov 22, 2014 18:01 IST

Until now, the Karnataka Prevention of Superstition Bill was a point of conflict between the State's atheist CM, Siddaramaiah, and groups such as the Bajrang Dal, RSS and VHP who alleged that the proposal was anti-Hindu.

A new dimension has been added with the entry of 208 Hindu seers, called Progressive Pontiffs Forum, who were recently on hunger strike demanding the passage of the bill, which seeks to ban practices such as Madey Snana, where people from lower castes roll over food leftover by Brahmins believing that their saliva has medicinal properties.

Siddaramaiah grabbed the opportunity to revive the bill, which had been gathering dust since November last year, by promising the progressive seers that he will push for the bill in the next cabinet meeting.

While Siddaramaiah's enthusiasm to ban superstitious practices has opponents within his own party such as party president G Parameshwara, a major legal hurdle has also cropped up. Earlier this week, the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order allowing the Madey Snana practice to be held at the State run Kukke Subrahmanya temple near Mangaluru.

As a result of the court's order, the anti-superstition bill cannot be tabled in the upcoming winter session of the Karnataka assembly. "The anti-superstition bill also seeks to ban Madey Snana. Attempting to pass it now (in the light of the court order) will create a conflict between the judiciary and the legislature," Law Minister T B Jayachandra told HT.

Jayachandra said that the only way for the State government is to go on appeal before the Supreme Court.

However, sources close to Siddaramaiah revealed that he is keen to push for the bill notwithstanding the HC order.

Meanwhile, Bajrang Dal State president Sharan Pumpwell told HT that leaders of various Sangh outfits held an emergency meeting on Wednesday where it was decided to hold State-wide demonstrations against the Bill.

Describing the Progressive Pontiffs Forum, as a "group of fake swamis", Pumpwell said, "Will the government ban superstitious practices among Muslims such as circumcision and the violent Muharram processions?"

The bill, which was drafted by the National Law School University of India (NLSUI), seeks to contain practices such as human sacrifice, magical cures for diseases in addition to Madey Snana.

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