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Bid to redefine stand on Muslims behind TMC silence on triple talaq Bill

This is exceptional, particularly because party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is known to be a vocal votary for women’s issues.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: December 30, 2017 9:46 am
triple talaq bill, tmc, west bengal, trinamool, mamata banerjee, muslims, silence, bengal cm, indian express Mamata Banerjee: tightrope-walking. (Express photo by Subham Dutta/Files)

The Congress, it appears, is not the only party looking to redefine its stand towards Muslims. 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, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs neither participated in the debate nor did they vote.

This is exceptional, particularly because party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is known to be a vocal votary for women’s issues.

Asked about the party’s silence on the Bill, a Rajya Sabha MP from TMC said, “Why do we have to have a point of view on every Bill? Why do we have to talk on every Bill? Is it mandatory? Let the Bill come to Rajya Sabha.” Sources in the party, however, said the matter was “discussed threadbare” in the party and a decision taken to steer clear.

In the past, the West Bengal government under Banerjee started a monthly stipend for imams and muezzins, and the CM has often been seen reading the Kalma during public meetings in Muslim-dominated areas. But now, with the BJP going all out to make forays into Bengal, Trinamool appears to be attempting a rebranding.

The silence on the triple talaq Bill is not the only instance of this. On January 8, the party is organising a Brahmin Conference in Birbhum, a first in the history of Bengal.

During an interaction at The Indian Express office earlier this week, Congress leader Ashok Gehlot had said that the party is trying to counter BJP propaganda that the Congress is “giving preference to Muslims”. Off the record, Trinamool leaders admit that such a process is under way in their party too.

A clear stand in favour of Thursday’s Bill would have alienated Muslim clerics of Bengal who have traditionally thrown their weight behind Banerjee and her party, such as Maulana Barkati of Tipu Sultan mosque and Jamiat-ulama-i-Hind, whose meeting Banerjee attended in 2015 at the iconic Shahid Minar in Kolkata. State Jamiat general secretary Siddiqullah Chowdhury fought the 2016 Assembly elections on a TMC ticket.

On the other hand, to oppose the Bill would be to 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. It would also mean exposing the party to the charge of Muslim appeasement — many within the party think this to be biggest contributor in the rapid rise of BJP in West Bengal in terms of at least vote share. “We discussed the triple talaq Bill threadbare and decided that the best option would be to not take a stand. It is a case of doomed if we do, doomed if we don’t,” a party Lok Sabha MP said.

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  1. Duckwalker indian
    Dec 31, 2017 at 8:14 am
    not a word s worth to b spoken about this crass woman calld Mamata Banerjee...not a single Hindu should have anything to do with her...she s a vicious poisonous bacteria to society....she will go down in history as d worst chief minister West Bengal has ever had
    1. Chandrasekaran Venkataraman
      Dec 30, 2017 at 9:51 am
      This is only interested in vote. Most of the Hindu temples are under state government control only whereas Madarasas and Churches are not controlled. These fellows being a Hindu cheating Hindus for their power. She cannot serve the people without power?
      1. Tauqiranibur Alam
        Dec 30, 2017 at 9:19 am
        Still Thristy. Story not complete. Need more work. It's only intention was to target mamta.this is India not Pakistan or Bangladesh.those who want to make India into Hindu state first look at Pakistan. Which is become a failed state. Whatever mamta, yogi or Sidaramaia governments did Indian should support or against in cons utional radar. Otherwise we all know Pakistan situation. Decision is at your hand make India more powerful or turn it into a unrest country.
        1. Ravi Blr
          Dec 30, 2017 at 9:44 am
          There is one fatal flaw in your thinking! Hindus are not rabid fundamentalists like Muslims, and there is nothing in Hindu scriptures that talks of killing non-believers or treating them as dhimmis!
          1. Duckwalker indian
            Dec 31, 2017 at 8:24 am
            pakistan follows murderous slaughtering blood dripping religion called Islam... just 20 years from now every child born to a muslim soon as he becomes aware of his bearings will start to look for ways to hide his ancestory....Hinduism is not that....understand d basic differences. when Alexander was pushed down from his horse by Hindu King Porus all that was necessary for d king was to walk d elephant over him n walk away....but Hindus r for peace...Porus took Alexander climbed him up his elephant n brought him inside his forte.....this is d greatness of Hinduism so if d whole world becomes Hindus there ll b absolute peace n no not only for d humans but even d animals ll grazing peacefully in its graceland
          2. Suchismita Patra
            Dec 30, 2017 at 7:40 am
            TMC and Kolkota will be soon muslim ry please take action like assam govt taken in kolkota must of are from banladesi or pakistani who are degeror for out nation. Mamata is very very stupid lady should kill thir self why kolkota hindu are voting her she is not wellfaire for ben she is wellfaire for muslims
            1. Avinash Rangra
              Dec 30, 2017 at 7:26 am
              Pretty soon Mamta will start wearing a juneau above her sari. Politics makes politicians do strange acrobatics.
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