Triple Talaq: How Parties Like TRS & BSP Failed To Take A Stand
By abstaining on Triple Talaq Bill, parties like BSP & TRS showed that they are governed by self-interest.
The Triple Talaq Bill – officially known as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 – is all set to become an Act, after being passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, 30 July. When the Bill was put to vote, 99 MPs voted in its favour, while 84 voted against it.
Summing up how the Bill was passed, Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav said, “Some parties helped pass the Bill By staying away. Those who can’t support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decisions openly, do so by staying absent.”
Madhav is right. The passage of the Bill was made possible by the absence of several parties that claimed to have been opposing it.
In fact, the way certain parties helped the BJP by staying away, it does appear that many ‘Opposition’ parties are quite willing to help the government on certain issues.
If one totals the number of MPs that the parties opposing the Triple Talaq Bill have in the Rajya Sabha, it is comfortably above the half-way mark of 123 in the 245-member House. But in the end only 84 MPs voted against the Bill.
Several parties who claimed to be opposing the Bill, ended up helping its passage by abstaining at the time of voting: AIADMK (11 MPs), BSP (4), PDP (2), JD(U) (6) and TRS (6).
Though let down by allies like the AIADMK and JD(U), the ruling NDA managed to get the Bill passed through abstentions and the support of the Biju Janata Dal, which voted in its favour.
Regional Parties Fail to Deliver
The passage of the Bill reflected a deep failure on the part of the Opposition. But for once it wasn’t the Congress but regional parties that proved to be the weakest link in the Opposition ranks.
The disappearance of the four Bahujan Samaj Party MPs, including the party’s de-facto number two Satish Chandra Misra, is particularly shocking. During the Lok Sabha elections, the BSP spared no efforts in wooing Muslims but when it came to opposing a Bill that could potentially be used to harass the community, the party’s MPs didn’t turn up.
The same holds for the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which also abstained from voting despite being opposed to the Triple Talaq Bill. This has become an embarrassment for the TRS’ informal ally in Telangana – the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen – whose supremo Asaduddin Owaisi was the fiercest critics of the Bill. Owaisi had repeatedly been saying that the Bill goes against the interests of Muslim women and that the true motive behind it is to target the Muslim community as a whole.
However, Owaisi was let down by a party which is supposed to be his ally.
Even parties which voted against the Bill couldn’t ensure that all its MPs were present in the House when voting was taking place. According to reports, five MPs each from the Congress and Samajwadi Party, two NCP MPs – senior leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel and one MP each from RJD, TMC, DMK and CPM were absent from the House, reducing the Opposition’s numbers even further.
The absence of half of the Samajwadi Party MPs is particularly inexplicable. The party reportedly didn’t even issue a whip ordering its MPs to be present in the House and oppose the Bill. This is despite the fact that the SP is critically dependent on the Muslim community’s support in Uttar Pradesh. Its MP Javed Ali Khan spoke against the Bill and moved several amendments but was let down by his colleagues, who merely stayed away.
The five Congress MPs who were absent are Ranjib Biswal, Partap Singh Bajwa, Mukut Mithi and Vivek Tankha, besides Sanjay Sinh who resigned from the House on Tuesday.
Speaking to the media, Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the government of “keeping the House in the dark” about the introduction of the Bill because of which the Congress and other Opposition parties couldn’t ensure the presence of all their members.
Perhaps the only party which ensured that all its members attended the House and voted against the Bill was the Aam Aadmi Party. All three AAP MPs voted against the Bill and party leader Sanjay Singh spoke against it in the House.
The manner in which the Triple Talaq Bill was passed makes two things quite clear.
- The real Opposition in Parliament is even smaller that what the numbers suggest. Several parties and individual MPs can, willingly or by necessity, help out the government whenever it is in a tight situation. As Ram Madhav said, those who can’t openly support Modi can help him by staying away.
- Parties might make public claims of being ‘secular’ or standing with Muslims. They may even express solidarity in Parliament. But when it comes to voting on such legislations, which can lead to harassment of the community, many of these parties are governed by self-interest and nothing else. Many, like the TRS, also seem to be taking Muslims for granted as the community doesn’t seem to have any credible alternative in the state.
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