Slamming the BJP over the law to check “love jihad”, senior Maharashtra minister and Congress leader Aslam Shaikh on Saturday said there was no question of such a law being implemented in Maharashtra.
Shaikh, who is Mumbai’s guardian minister, said, “To bring a law for love jihad is foolishness. In the Constitution, it is written that a citizen can stay anywhere, marry anyone and adopt any religion and while anything forcibly is done, then there is already a provision in the law to deal with it.”
Led by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, ministers and ruling side politicians from Opposition-ruled states have criticised announcements by three BJP-ruled states — namely Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana — regarding the enactment of legislations to check what they say is “love jihad.”
Incidentally, the Nationalist Congress Party, which leads the Home department in Maharashtra’s three party rule, is yet to comment on the issue. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and senior Shiv Sena leaders, too, have stayed away from the debate so far. But Shiv Sena’s MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also criticised the law. In a sarcastic tweet, she wrote, “Who women marry will be decided by law not for love. I learnt that Indian women are incapable of knowing who they love, trust, how to safeguard their interests, make a choice. Hence government will make law to decide for them. For marital rape government has no opinion still.”
Targeting the three BJP-ruled states, Shaikh said, “Those governments that want to hide their inadequacies and deviate from the real issues are bringing such laws. Such baseless issues will never be brought up in Maharashtra.” Earlier on Friday, Gehlot had tweeted, “Love jihad is a word manufactured by the BJP to divide the nation and disturb communal harmony.” In another tweet on the issue, Gehlot wrote, “Marriage is a matter of personal liberty (and) bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional and it will not stand in any court of law.” Later in the day, dissenting voices against the announcements of the three BJP-ruled states also came from ruling alliance leaders from other Opposition states including Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Kerala and West Bengal.
The BJP, meanwhile, attempted to corner the Shiv Sena over the issue. Questioning the Shiv Sena’s silence on it, BJP’s Mumbai MLA Ram Kadam said, “Has the Shiv Sena forgotten what Balasaheb Thackeray used to say on the issue?” he asked, while criticising Shaikh’s remarks. Jumping into the controversy, party’s former MP Kirit Somaiya, who has made a series of allegations against the Thackeray family in the last few days, accused the former ally of “changing colours” after winning power. “The BJP will move a proposal for bringing a similar law in Maharashtra in the upcoming assembly session,” he said. Later, BJP’s Mumbai president and senior MLA Mangalprabhat Lodha hinted at plans to bring a private members Bill on the issue in the Maharashtra assembly.
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