Tuesday January 23, 2018
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Ruckus in Rajya Sabha over National Herald case

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New Delhi: The National Herald case stalled the Rajya Sabha for the second day on Wednesday, with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad blaming the government for misusing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in getting the case reopened.

“ED had shut the case. Subramanian Swamy and the government got it reopened,” Azad said.

“We have no charges against the judiciary… It is not the fault of the court, but of this government… which changed the ED who reopened the case. So my charge is that on the direction of the government, the cases against all opposition leaders are being reopened, even if they are small cases,” he said.

Azad’s comments came just before the house was adjourned for the day around 3.15 p.m.

“Democracy is being murdered so this is the best platform to raise the issue, in the temple of democracy,” he said.

He was countered by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who said the opposition should start a discussion.

Earlier, disruptions started as soon as the house met at 11 am when Congress members stormed the chairman’s podium raising the issue of summons to party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case.

The Congress members chanted slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Members of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) also protested against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on the Polavaram project, a multi-purpose dam in Andhra Pradesh whose reservoir spreads into parts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

They trooped near the chairman’s podium and held placards demanding that work on the Polavaram Dam project be stopped.

Amid the din, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the house till 11.30 a.m.

When the house reassembled, Congress and BJD members went close to the chairman’s podium and again shouted slogans.

Congress members were shouting slogans like “Modi teri tanashahi, nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi”.

Meanwhile, Naqvi said: “The Congress party is stalling the development of the country. Whistleblowers protection bill and ST/SC (prevention of atrocities) amendment bill are listed in today’s business.”

“If the Congress party feels any kind of discrimination, we are ready to discuss. They are protesting inside and outside parliament and disrupting government’s development agenda,” he said.

Azad demanded a discussion against Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh governments and questioned the government’s inaction in the Vyapam case.

As the ruckus continued, Kurien adjourned the house till noon. But when the house reassembled, similar scenes were witnessed and Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the house till 12.15 p.m and then till 2.00 p.m.

The house reassembled at 2.00 p.m. but it was soon adjourned till 3 p.m. as the uproar continued. When the house finally assembled again at 3 p.m., Congress members continued creating ruckus and the house was adjourned for the day around 3.15 p.m.(IANS)

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Triple Talaq: Are the concerns and efforts real?

It cannot be deied that BJP is outlawing triple talaq to gain political mileage both from sections of Muslim women and from those Hindus who will see it as Modi's distress over the sufferings of Muslim women and as a message to Muslims that the days when they were given excessive leeway by less assertive governments are now gone.

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Triple Talaq continues to plague lives of Muslim women, VOA News
Triple Talaq continues to plague lives of Muslim women, VOA News
  • Triple Talaq has been seen as way of BJP gaining popularity among Muslims, and not as a real concern for the distressed women of the community.
  • BJP leaders are often accused of Anti-Muslim statements, which further proves the point.
  • However, if the law is passed, it will be a step towards empowerment of the Muslim women.

Only the naive will believe that deep concern for the welfare of Muslim “sisters” and for the maintenance of the “dignity of women” and “gender equality” persuaded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to introduce the bill in parliament to ban the practice of triple talaq.

For a party whose founder in its previous incarnation, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, thought that only a civil war can solve the Hindu-Muslim problem, as Tripura’s Governor, Tathagata Roy of the BJP, reminded us recently, and a BJP candidate in the Gujarat elections sought a reduction in the numbers of “topi and dadhiwalas” (sartorial allusion to Muslims), it strains credulity to believe that it has been guided solely by laudable motives to put an end to an admittedly reprehensible custom.

The belief will persist, therefore, that it is a desire to “garner votes” which is behind the decision, notwithstanding Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad’s disavowal of such an intention.

Few will deny, of course, that the practice itself is highly condemnable, not least because it is illegal even in Islamic countries. For a secular country, therefore, to allow it to prevail will point to a flawed outlook whose roots lie deep in the political calculations.

It cannot be gainsaid that the BJP is outlawing triple talaq to gain political mileage both from sections of Muslim women and from those Hindus who will see the proposed law, first, as an example of “brother” Modi’s distress over the sufferings of Muslim women and, secondly, as a message to Muslims in general that the days are gone when they were given excessive leeway by less assertive governments.

The “secular” rulers of the past, on the other hand, also thought that they will gain votes by pandering to the predilections of the obscurantists among the minorities.

The worst example of this regressive attitude was the Shah Bano episode, when the Rajiv Gandhi government negated a Supreme Court verdict in favour of alimony for a divorced Muslim woman on the advice of Muslim fundamentalists.

Shayara Bano case was one of the biggest milestone cases in history of India which intensified the previously buried matter. Wikipedia Common
Shayara Bano case was one of the biggest milestone cases in history of India which intensified the previously buried matter. Wikipedia Common

The BJP’s rise from the sidelines of politics to the mainstream, can be traced through that event in the mid-1980s. The Congress will have to tread carefully in deciding on its stance on the bill which has followed the Supreme Court’s recent declaration of triple talaq as unconstitutional in a case involving the litigant, Shayara Bano.

The difficulty for the Congress is that it has given secularism a bad name by making the concept virtually synonymous with minority appeasement. While the BJP will not mind being closely associated with Hinduism, the Congress has been trying to shed the impression that it has become “mussalmanon ki party” or a party of Muslims, as the Congress leader, Ashok Gehlot, has said, ever since the 2014 defeat made him aware of this unwelcome image, as the A.K. Antony report pointed out.

The triple talaq bill gives it an opportunity to refurbish its reputation by articulating a rational position on drafting the law, aiming at protecting Muslim women from cruel and whimsical divorces and at the same time ensuring that the legislation does not lead to a police witch-hunt targeting men. Since the bill has to still pass through the Rajya Sabha, Parliament’s upper house, there is ample scope for fine-tuning it for smoothing out the rough edges, the most egregious of which is to introduce an element of criminality in a civil legal procedure.

If the Congress and other “secular” parties play a leading role in ensuring that the new law will unequivocally serve the ends of justice where no one — neither the women, nor the men, nor the children of divorced parents — will suffer, then these parties will be able to retrieve much of their lost reputation about cynical kowtowing to bigots in the Muslim community and reassure the country in general that politics can rise above partisan and opportunistic considerations.

From this standpoint, the bill provides a golden opportunity to the secular outfits even if the BJP runs away with much of the credit for introducing it.

Outside of politics, what is noteworthy is the failure of the Muslims to deal with the problem on their own. But ever since partition robbed the community of bold, educated leaders and self-confidence by inducing the minority complex of being forever under siege under the numerically superior Hindus — unlike other minorities like Sikhs and Parsis who have retained their poise and self-belief — the Muslims have come under the retrogressive influence of the mullahs with the result that they have remained stuck in the past.

Not all Muslim have the freedom to do whatever they want. They are still in the clutches of Triple Talaq.
Not all Muslim have the freedom to do whatever they want. They are still in the clutches of Triple Talaq.

Triple talaq is one manifestation of such backwardness along with polygamy and the veiling of women as they reinforce the age-old patriarchal norms. Only a small section of upper middle class women — film stars and sports personnel being prominent among them — has been able to extricate themselves from the grasp of medievalism and enter the modern world. But the majority of the poor and lower middle class women have been denied the opportunity of advancement by orthodox Muslim society. The new law offers them a ray of hope. IANS Live