Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the chief of biopharmaceutical company Biocon, on Wednesday urged Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to resolve the “growing religious divide” in the state.
“If ITBT [information technology and biotechnology] became communal, it would destroy our global leadership,” she wrote on Twitter.
Mazumdar-Shaw made the comments citing a report by The Indian Express about unease among traders and temple committees on calls by Hindutva organisations to ban Muslim businessmen from setting up stalls at temple fairs.
“Karnataka has always forged inclusive economic development and we must not allow such communal exclusion,” the Biocon chief said.
In response to her tweet, another user remarked that Bommai would increase the communal divide and that Karnataka “will fail in front of our eyes”.
To this, Mazumdar-Shaw described the chief minister as a “very progressive leader”, and expressed confidence that he “will resolve this issue soon”.
Mazumdar-Shaw’s comments drew a sharp reaction from the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Information Technology Cell chief Amit Malviya, who questioned whether she had spoken up when “a belligerent minority sought to prioritise Hijab over education”.
The BJP leader also said that it the rules to exclude non-Hindus from Hindu institutions under the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, had been framed in 2002 when the Congress was in power in Karnataka.
Even if Malviya’s claims were to be true that the rules on banning Muslim traders at temple fairs had been formulated under Congress’ regime, they had not been implemented in all these years.
In recent weeks however, several temples in Karnataka have banned Muslim traders from opening stalls at annual fairs. The Hosa Marigudi temple in Mangaluru’s Kaup town did not allot stalls to Muslims during an auction for an annual fair held on March 22 and March 23.
In the Dakshina Kannada district, banners were placed at the Bappandu Durgaparameshwari temple, the Mangaladevi temple and the Puttur Mahalingeshwara temple barring non-Hindus from setting up stalls at fairs.
This was after Hindutva organisations Hindu Jagarana Vedike and Vishwa Hindu Parishad objected to allotting stalls to Muslims.