The Congress on Saturday alleged that the government’s motive behind the ‘triple talaq‘ bill was not to protect Muslim women, but to play politics over the issue.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said if the NDA government was so keen on introducing the bill, it could have done so on Thursday “instead of targeting Friday, which is a non-Bill day”.
His remarks come a day after the BJP held Congress president Rahul Gandhi responsible for the ‘triple talaq‘ bill not getting the parliamentary nod in the Monsoon Session, saying his party supported it in the Lok Sabha but not in the Rajya Sabha for its vote bank politics.
Attacking Mr Gandhi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had said on Friday that the government till the last moment tried to ensure the passage of the bill, but Congress stalled it.
Accusing the government of playing politics over the issue, Mr Ramesh told reporters today at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi, “The favourite word of Shri Modi, ‘niyat’ (intention) is not ‘saaf’ (clean) here. The ‘niyat’ is something else, motive is something else.”
“The motive is not protecting Muslim women. The motive is to paint the Congress and other parties into a corner and why they have not explained till today, why did they… make it a prestige issue on the criminal provision, why suddenly they have removed this. Why? It is a welcome removal, but why? What prompted them to change their mind?” he said.
The Modi government had come out with a new slogan few months ago, ‘Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas’ (Clean intent, right development), to mark its four years in power at the centre.
Mr Ramesh said that the government could have allowed the bill to go to a Select Committee, given it one month, and they would come back with the same amendments.
“The whole thing is a political game,” he alleged.
Asked if the Congress’ demand that ‘triple talaq’ bill be referred to Select Committee was a late realisation, Jairam Ramesh said it was not so.
Leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had made it very clear in the last session of Parliament when the bill came out that there is no provision for ‘triple talaq’ in Islamic norms, a certain section practices it, a strong law is needed to deal with it, and while making the law, it should not be criminalised, Mr Ramesh said.
He asserted that all political parties — the Congress, TMC, Left, Samajwadi, BSP, BJD, NCP, Anna DMK — had said that it should be referred to a Select Committee.
Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law which makes the practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ illegal and imposes a jail term of up to three years on the husband could be misused, the government on Thursday had approved certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial.
“The government at first did not agree to the amendments then suddenly two days ago, they passed the very amendments that Azad was suggesting,” Mr Ramesh said.
“What prompted them to change the mind, I do not know. And they did not take opposition into confidence. They did not have a meeting but they passed.
“They came up with this new revised ‘Triple Talaq‘ Legislation but yesterday Chairman of the Rajya Sabha…said we will take up after Private Members Bill, we will take Insolvency Code and we will take up Commercial Courts,” he said.
“Yesterday, the behaviour of Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shri Arun Kumar in Rajya Sabha leads me to believe that this was part of a well planned out strategy that we want the bill, but the Congress and other parties do not. This is absolutely false,” he said.