As the government pushed through the triple talaq bill in Lok Sabha on Thursday, the Opposition took a calibrated approach vis a vis its reservations, with most of its members choosing not to reject the bill outright. Barring AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi, AIADMK’s A A Rajha and All India Muslim League’s Mohammed Basheer, no member opposed the bill in its entirety. In fact, all members, including those of the Congress, started their speeches saying they were in support of government’s intention of bringing a legislation.
The Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge and Sushmita Dev highlighted shortcomings in the bill and wanted it referred to a standing committee of Parliament. RSP’s N K Premchandran wanted the bill circulated among people for consultation. CPM’s A Sampath found the bill to be transgressing civil rights, while BJD’s Tathagata Satapathy had a “focused opposition to criminality in the bill”. However, all members while detailing their opposition made sure they were not seen on the side of triple talaq.
Even the more aggressive voices – Samajwadi Party’s Dharmendra Yadav and RJD’s JP Narayan – were measured in their criticism. Yadav said, “The Supreme Court has outlawed triple talaq. But the way the government is rushing through this bill, it’s not right. Consult all stakeholders. Take it to the standing committee. We oppose the bill on the ground of criminality. It is a violation of human rights.”
RJD’s Narayan invoked the Babri demolition to mock the treasury bench’s remark that its hearts were bleeding for Muslim women, said, “Please take back the criminality clause and consult the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and elders in the Muslim community.” Even ET Mohammed Basheer of Muslim League, who wholeheartedly opposed the bill made sure to add: “But do not brand me. I am not supporting triple talaq.”
Pushing for the bill to be sent to a standing committee, Kharge said, “All are for the bill. But there are problems with the bill. You have not consulted stakeholders, women’s organisations or intellectuals. We have the same interest as you in the bill. But don’t think you know everything. The lacuna can be rectified through discussion. Send the bill to standing committee.”
RSP’s Premchandran, who moved maximum number of amendments to the bill, said, “The over-enthusiasm shown by the government has a cloud of suspicion that the government is moving towards uniform civil code… It’s an ill-drafted legislation with ulterior motive.” Satpathy said the government could have brought an ordinance as it always does but it was bringing a bill as it wanted the issue to be raked up. “You are not bringing an ordinance as it’s not an economic bill.
This has a political twist to it. Therefore, this had to be debated, screened and then the video could have been shown everywhere that look these people are bad and those people are good. So, the game is somewhere else,” he said. Many members also raised the issue of the bill leaving no space for reconciliation and thus having an impact on Muslim families.