No Restrictions On Hijab In Classrooms Anymore? Here Are Five Decisions Of Outgoing Government That Congress Looks Set To Reverse In Karnataka

Sharan Setty

May 13, 2023, 05:12 PM | Updated 05:10 PM IST

Karnataka hijab case. (Representative Image).
Karnataka hijab case. (Representative Image).

As the counting in Karnataka nears conclusion, the Indian National Congress is all set to form the next government in the state.

The Congress party and its leaders made a wide-array of promises in the last few days and weeks of campaigning.

Apart from offering freebies, the party has also promised to reverse several decisions taken by the outgoing BJP government in the state.

Here are the list of decisions the Congress may reverse once it assumes power in Karnataka:

1. No hijab in classrooms

This much-debated conflict arose around December 2021 in Udupi when some students belonging to the minority community decided to demand the right to sport the hijab inside classrooms.

Soon, it snowballed into a matter of public order, whereby classes were disrupted by those in ‘solidarity’ with the hijab-donning students.

The Karnataka government, by an order dated 5 February 2022, banned wearing clothes that 'disturb equality, integrity, and public order in schools and colleges'.

The petitioners then pleaded to the Karnataka HC, claiming that hijab was an ‘essential religious practice’.

On 15 March, the High Court dismissed petitions, saying it is not a part of essential religious practice in the Islamic faith.

Even though the case went to the Supreme Court, the restrictions on the hijab still remain in Karnataka.

These are likely to be reversed in a Congress regime.

At the height of the row in February 2022, Siddaramaiah had come out in support of the hijab-sporting girls.

With the Congress back in power, the hijab looks set to enter classrooms in the state.

To top it all, the outgoing Education Minister of Karnataka, B C Nagesh, who defended the restrictions on hijab has lost from his constituency of Tiptur.

2. Anti Cow Slaughter Act

In the run up to the elections, the Congress dubbed the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Act, 2020 as 'communal agenda'.

In 2022, Congress leaders like former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Priyank Kharge have stated that the legislation has 'hurt farmers' and hit the leather industry in the state.

Karnataka's leather exports stood at Rs 521.81 crore in 2017-18 and fell to Rs 160.84 crore in 2020-21, its leaders have been quoted as saying.

3. Reservation on religious grounds

Another big promise made by the Congress leaders pertains to retaining reservations on communal lines.

Notably, weeks before the notification of assembly elections, the Bommai government had done away with 4 per cent reservation given to Muslims in Karnataka under 2B of Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, and distributed it to two politically influential communities — Veerashaiva-Lingayats and Vokkaligas — at 2 per cent each in jobs and admissions in educational institutions.

KPCC chief DK Shivakumar has stated that the four per cent reservation for Muslims will be re-introduced if they are voted to power.

However, a recent order of the Supreme Court had stayed the Karnataka government's decision anyway, and the new government is most likely to reverse it.

4. National Education Policy

The Congress has promised to introduce a 'State Education Policy' in place of the National Education Policy (NEP) in Karnataka. In its manifesto, the INC made a promise to repeal all the 'anti-people and unjust laws' implemented in the state by the outgoing BJP government.

5. Labour law reforms introduced by the BJP

In the election campaign, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge hinted at a Rajasthan-style rollback of the recently adopted labour reforms by the BJP government in Karnataka.

Kharge had accused both the BJP governments at the Centre and Karnataka of following "anti-labour" law by passing the legislation amending the Factories Act, 1948.

The amendment allows for extending the working day for up to 12 hours a day.

With Congress in the chair in Bengaluru and Kharge as president of the Congress, this is another policy-decision of the outgoing BJP government that looks set to be reversed.

Sharan Setty (Sharan K A) is an Associate Editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @sharansetty2.

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