Karnataka Cong chief’s absence from anti-conversion bill debate upsets party leaders

Belagavi: The absence of Karnataka Congress President D. K. Shivakumar on the final day of the winter session of the Assembly to debate the anti-conversion bill has upset many of his party leaders, sources in the Congress revealed.

Shivakumar had torn the copy of the bill when it was introduced on Wednesday and pledged that when the Congress comes to power, the law will be rolled back.

However, party leaders are not happy with the state Congress chief’s decision to stay away from the crucial discussion on the controversial bill on Friday and Saturday.

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Siddaramaiah, Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly, faced the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone on Friday. The BJP had turned the tables on the Congress that it is Siddaramaiah who had initiated the anti-conversion bill and during the previous government the draft of the bill was prepared. This claim by the ruling BJP came as a shock and Siddaramaiah was chided and ridiculed in the Assembly.

Former Speaker Ramesh Kumar had to come to Siddaramaiah’s rescue several times. The absence of Shivakumar was felt strongly and even Congress leaders had no clue why the former chose other events as priority over attending the Assembly session.

Shivakumar has travelled to Kushalnagar in Madikeri district to participate in a religious function on Friday. He performed worship at Talacauvery, the sacred birth place of the Cauvery eiver, for the success of a massive protest demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project.

Many senior Congress leaders have expressed their displeasure over the absence of Shivakumar in the session on Friday and Saturday. Siddaramaiah was visibly struggling to face the onslaught by the ruling BJP.

It is an open secret within the Congress ranks about the rivalry between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar for supremacy of the state party affairs. The party sources said that the Congress high command had taken the absence of Shivakumar seriously as the party has suffered a massive setback in connection with the anti-conversion bill.

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