Special Report

Triple Talaq prey to vote bank politics

Triple Talaq prey to vote bank politics

With general elections in the country just months away, practically every move of principal political parties is motivated by vote bank politics. Whatever their pretensions, the Congress, the DMK, the AIADMK,  Samajwadi Party, the Trinamool Congress,  among others, are wary of risking the loss of Muslim votes and would rather reject a social welfare measure that would provide succour to oppressed Muslim women but would anger the men in their community. The BJP too, having realised that it could carve out a vote bank among Muslim women, is cultivating them assiduously, being conscious that the party is anathema to Muslim men.

The triple talaq bill which had even earlier been passed in the Lok Sabha has been passed again in an amended form amid heated protests from the opposition including a walkout. This is in anticipation of the ordinance promulgated by it on the issue lapsing. The opposition led by the Congress, on the other hand, is on the time-honoured path of appeasing the Muslim men who call the shots even if this alienates a section of Muslim women. The result is a dingdong battle in which the bill faces an uphill task in the Rajya Sabha in which the UPA and its fellow travellers are on the opposite side of BJP’s fence with the latter being short of numbers to pass it.The Congress and its allies are resisting any attempt to divide the votes polarising men and women on an adversarial plank.Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who brought forth the amended bill meeting some of the objections to the earlier bill is adamant that violators would be imprisoned if found guilty. This is as it should be otherwise there would be no real deterrent against the pernicious practice of triple talaq.

For the detractors, seeking to refer the bill to a joint select committee of parliament and opposing any punishment for the violators are ways to delay and if possible scuttle the bill. The Congress and its allies also argue that with the Supreme Court having passed an order in favour of abolishing triple talaq, there is no need for a separate law. And so the jockeying continues, marking a new high in expediency and a new low in the level of politics being played in parliament. All said and done, the whole controversy has taken a political turn and gender justice which had earlier been cited as the cause for the new legislation has been relegated to the background even as political jockeying becomes paramount. Considering that as many as 22 Islamic countries have enacted laws to outlaw triple talaq it is time that the social reform be brought about in the interests of gender justice.

It would indeed be in the fitness of things if the Rajya Sabha too passes this reform without delay and the tendency to view everything through vote bank tinted glasses be eschewed. Is that too much to expect from our elected representatives? In August last, the government had brought amendments to the bill after conceding some of the opposition’s demands to prevent misuse of the proposed law. That these were considered inadequate by the opposition is hardly surprising because it was manifest that there was no sincere intent on the opposition’s part to allow the bill through. It had cleared provisions that complaints in cases of triple talaq could only be filed by the victim (wife) or her blood relatives and that a magistrate could grant bail with certain terms and conditions. It has also been provided in the amended bill that the case could be withdrawn if the man and his estranged wife reached a compromise. Evidently, the Modi government is keen to encash the benefit of Muslim women’s favourable response in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The Congress, on the other hand, along with other opposition parties wants to ward off any ill effect of the new proposed law until after the poll. The key would lie in the current parliament session. The government could also invoke the option of a joint session of parliament to get through with the legislation. This is indeed a time to watch.

written by FPJ Bureau 


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