Karnataka Chief Minister, on Saturday, said the withdrawal of the hijab ban is under contemplation. The statement on “only contemplating” comes just a day after facing strong criticism from the opposition BJP, upon announcing the withdrawal of the Hijab ban in educational institutions, upholding “freedom of choice in clothing and food”.
CM Siddaramaiah said that the administration was only contemplating and the decision on lifting the ban on Hijabs in educational institutions will be confirmed after discussion at the government level.
“We haven’t revoked the Hijab ban yet. Someone asked me a question (regarding withdrawal of the Hijab ban). I replied that the government is considering revoking it,” he said, in his address on Saturday.
In his previous statement, the right-wing opposition party and its members expressed criticism, while few took to the microblogging site X (formerly known as Twitter), calling out the CM’s statement, accusing the Congress of doing Muslim appeasement for vote banks.
BJP Karnataka State President, B Y Vijayendra took to X strongly opposing the decision saying, “it raises concerns about the secular nature of educational spaces”. He alleged that the Siddaramaiah Government is promoting “dividing young minds along religious lines, potentially hindering the inclusive learning environment”.
R. Ashok, Leader of Opposition said that the Congress was attempting to “sow the seeds of religious identity politics in classrooms” using this move.
“The State’s coffers are empty and the ruling party MLAs are themselves saying not a single stone has been laid for works in the State since this government has come to power. With no funds for development, Siddaramaiah is trying to distract the people ahead of Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
Senior BJP leader BS Yediyurappa told ANI, “To attend the classes, the same uniform is required, this has been decided by the court also… Just to please the Muslim community, Siddaramaiah has taken this hasty decision.”
Moreover, Former Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai said that, “The matter is pending in the Supreme Court and the Chief Minister does not even take note of it. He wants to please the minorities by eyeing the Lok Sabha polls.”
However, in a war of words, Congress was seen hitting back at BJP’s criticism asserting that the statement was under the rule of law and must not be politicized.
State minister Priyank Kharge (son of Mallikarjun Kharge), said “I don’t think the BJP is aware of the Constitution. They should read the Constitution. Any law or policy which is not good for Karnataka’s progress won’t be overlooked. If required, we will remove that law or rule.”
“It has nothing to do with any kind of politics. The state’s education policy is inclusive of culture, studies and other things. The BJP will not speak about what progress they have made. Our Chief Minister will certainly have a look and explore the legality issues for such matters,” he added.
The Hijab row in Karnataka started in December 2019, after the then-BJP government imposed a ban on Hijab in educational institutions. Following widespread outrage, the Karnataka High Court upheld the enforced prohibition on Hijab in educational institutions in March 2022, arguing that Hijab wasn’t an essential Islamic practice. Petitioners approached the Supreme Court, where a split verdict was reached and is currently set for consideration by a larger bench.