Triple talaq bill: BJP faces litmus test in Rajya Sabha today, Opposition set to stall move

The ongoing debate over the triple talaq bill is all set to take centre stage in the Rajya Sabha on Monday (December 31), with ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) preparing to pass a motion in favour of amendments to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill while Congress and several other parties have signed a resolution to oppose the bill.

Several parties including BJP and Congress have already issued a whip to their MPs, demanding their presence in the House where the bill will be moved by Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

While BJP has only asked its Rajya Sabha members to be present, Congress has issued a three-line whip to its members in both houses of the Parliament. The Telegu Desam Party (TDP) has also issued a similar whip to its MPs, reported news agency ANI.

Read: Opposition readies resolution to stall triple talaq bill in Rajya Sabha

Many of the parties, including those close to BJP, have sided with Congress to file a resolution to get the bill scrutinised in detail by a joint select committee. Since the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, with 245 members voting in favour of the bill and 11 against it, the opposition parties have vowed to oppose the bill.

AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said the bill in its present form cannot be passed as it does not do justice to all parties involved in the debate. Members from the party have blamed BJP of pushing through with the bill in a bid to score points ahead of the 2019 general elections, adding that some of the provisions in the bill were unconstitutional.

Not just Congress but several MPs belonging to opposition also want some certain clauses in the bill to be ironed out.

Why the uproar?

The contentious bill that seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce among Muslims has also been opposed a group of 40 women activists, including Muslim women, who have urged the Rajya Sabha to withdraw the bill and re-draft it.

We are writing on behalf of Muslim women from across the country and women’s groups to oppose this Bill, which is arbitrary, excessive, and violative [sic] of fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Overall, if this Bill is passed it would make Muslim women more vulnerable to violence, as well as harm their economic, household and social security, said the group in a statement.

Also Read: Triple Talaq Bill passed in Lok Sabha amid chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Congress walkout

They also shared a detailed blog citing reasons to term the bill as arbitrary and excessive.

Many leaders from the opposition have mainly questioned the criminalisation and prison clause mentioned in the bill, explaining that it is unconstitutional to send a Muslim man to prison over the practice.

Opposition leaders to meet

While several meetings have been conducted between opposition parties, another high-level meet between the leaders is expected to be held in the morning before proceedings begin. The leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad is expected to evolve a strategy in the house to oppose the issue.

“Opposition parties will meet Monday morning and evolve their strategy. But, we all are determined to send the bill to the select committee as the same cannot be passed in its present form. The opposition parties are united in this stand on the issue,” a senior opposition leader told PTI.

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu is unlikely to be present today due to the demise of his mother-in-law; Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha Sabha Harivansh is likely to conduct proceedings instead.

BJP confident

Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday claimed that the bill will find complete support in the Rajya Sabha despite the fact that the BJP-led NDA lacks a majority in the Upper House.

Sources had informed that the numbers are stacked in favour of the opposition in the Upper House, with UPA having a slight advantage. Rahul Gandhi-led Congress claimed it has support of 116 MPs who have signed a resolution to stop passage of the bill.

Meanwhile, members from the ruling party are also trying to seek the support of all parties for the passage of triple talaq bill a day before it is taken up in the Rajya Sabha. Union minister Vijay Goel was among the leaders who asked for support from other MPs.

He said, It is high time we ensure justice for our Muslim sisters. They have gone through so much pain because of this inhuman practice of triple talaq.

The triple talaq bill seeks to protect the rights of married Muslim women and prohibit divorce by their husbands by pronouncing talaq.

While it is certain that the bill will be met with fierce opposition, nothing can be said before the final decision is passed in the Rajya Sabha.

Also Watch: Govt to move Triple Talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha on Monday

Updated: December 30, 2018 — 11:48 pm