West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who did not comment after the Supreme Court declared the practice of instant triple talaq unconstitutional in August, broke her silence on the issue on Wednesday, saying the legislation brought in by the BJP government was “politically motivated and would not serve the interest of Muslim women”.
Speaking at a public meeting in Birbhum district, the Trinamool Congress chief sought to dispel doubts that the party was not in favour of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill owing to the fear of losing votes. She said her government supported protection of Muslim women but asserted that the bill was flawed.
“We never opposed the proposed bill on instant triple talaq. We are in favour of the protection of Muslim women. There are people in Muslim community who abide by the law and customs of their religion. They don’t believe in such practices. Despite such fact, the BJP has brought forward a defective bill. Instead of giving protection to Muslim women, they are doing politics with the bill. We don’t want Muslim women to face any injustice but this is a politically motivated bill,” the CM said.
When the Lok Sabha on Thursday debated and passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill, which contains penal provisions for any man practising instantaneous triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat, TMC MPs neither participated in the debate nor did they vote. This led many to accuse the TMC government of appeasing Muslim voters, who have traditionally thrown their weight behind Banerjee.
However, opposing the Bill may alienate at least one half of the state’s 27 per cent Muslims — women of the community — and perhaps risk the wrath of women’s organisations. Seeking to counter all accusations, Banerjee said the government was sensitive while addressing issues concerning women. “We want the protection of Muslim women, Hindu women and Christian women. We are sensitive while addressing issues concerning women. But we will not keep quiet if a defective bill is passed to change the law,” she added.
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Meanwhile, while speaking to reporters outside Parliament on Wednesday, TMC MP Derek O’Brien said the bill was a faulty one. “We are all for this bill, but it is a faulty bill. No women’s groups, stakeholders were consulted. All we ask for is that talk to all stakeholders,” he said.