The government and the Opposition remained divided on Thursday over the triple talaq bill as the Rajya Sabha was adjourned following an uproar and chaos. The government rejected the Opposition’s demand for sending the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 to a Select Committee, infuriating them further.
With no agreement, the government placed the bill at the bottom of priority in the list of business, as the Opposition demanded that its motions for referring the bill to a Select Committee be taken up immediately. However, deputy chairman PJ Kurien said the listing of business was the government’s priority. The Opposition members created an uproar, forcing him to adjourn the House for the day.
It now remains to be seen whether the government lists the bill, which seeks to criminalise instant divorce by uttering talaq thrice, for consideration on Friday – the last day of the Winter session.
The Rajya Sabha saw a heated debate between TMC leader Derek O’ Brien and Union Minister Smriti Irani over the bill. “It’s clear that the opposition wants to empower women, and you (government) stand exposed,” Brien said. Reacting to the former quiz master, Irani demanded a discussion on the issue. “Absolutely not, if you seriously want to empower women then have a discussion now,” she said.
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Intervening in the matter, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the government was isolated on the issuer, while the Opposition stood united. “The government is isolated, the Opposition is one. The bill should be sent to the select committee,” said Sibal.
Irani said the double standards of the Congress stood exposed and asked why were they running away from a discussion on the triple talaq bill. “Why is Congress-led opposition running away from discussion? Double standards of the Congress are exposed today and I think it is a shame to them that they are trying to obstruct this path of justice for Indian Muslim women,” the Textiles Minister said.
Apart from the triple talaq bill, issues related to the Bhima Koregaon violence and the economy were also discussed. Congress leader Anand Sharma asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not releasing details regarding demonetisation. “Why hasn’t the PM released details on the claims made on demonetisation? For the first time, an Indian PM said in front of the entire world that the economy of a country runs on black money,” the Congress leader said, adding that over 99 per cent of the currency returned to RBI.
Sharma added that GST hurt the economy even further. “Let the Finance Minister release the GDP numbers as per the old series and news series tomorrow. Let the country know the truth,” Sharma said. “This year we have grown after five quarters of consecutive fall,” he added.
BJP MP Bhupender Yadav, meanwhile, blamed the UPA government for the mess and pointed out at the non-performance assets (NPA) in the banking sector. “The reformative steps taken by the government in three years has resulted in the improvement of India’s Ease of Business rankings,” he said.
The government also tabled a demand for an additional grant of Rs 80,000 crore towards bank recapitalisation in Lok Sabha. The recapitalisation move of state banks is seen as part of a move to help lenders deal with bad debts and revive credit growth. In October 2016, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced a Rs 2 lakh crore plan to recapitalise banks.
The Maharashtra caste violence, that brought life in Mumbai to a standstill for the third consecutive day, also came up for discussion. In Rajya Sabha, CPI(M) MP from Tamil Nadu TK Rangarajan demanded a judicial inquiry into the Dalit-Maratha clash by a sitting Supreme Court judge, alleging tactical support by the government. The demand was seconded by several MPs, including DMK’s Kanimozhi.