A wave of confusion washed over Karnataka’s hijab controversy on Saturday after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s seemingly pro-hijab remarks. Though media outlets circulated news of the ban being lifted, Siddaramaiah clarified: the government has not formally lifted the ban yet.
During an event in Mysuru, Siddaramaiah stated that women have the right to wear the hijab, sparking speculation that the ban might be scrapped. However, he quickly backtracked, emphasizing that the government is still mulling over the issue and that an official order is pending.
This clarification sparked criticism from the opposition BJP, who accused Siddaramaiah of “appeasement politics” and catering to minority voters ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai questioned the timing of Siddaramaiah’s statement, especially while the matter rests with the Supreme Court.
The hijab controversy, which began in December 2021, has been a volatile political issue. Six girls in Udupi were denied entry to their college for wearing hijabs, triggering protests and a legal battle that reached the Supreme Court. The apex court delivered a split verdict, leaving the question of whether the government can control student attire unanswered.
Siddaramaiah’s recent comments, combined with the Congress’s pre-election stance on ending the ban, have reignited the issue. While supporters applaud the potential move as a step towards inclusivity, critics denounce it as political opportunism.
With the Lok Sabha elections looming large, the hijab issue is likely to remain a point of contention in Karnataka’s political landscape. The government’s official decision on the ban will be closely watched, with potential repercussions for both parties involved.
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