The fact that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's strong advocacy against triple talaq came just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched upon the subject at Bharatiya Janata Party's National Executive meet in Bhubaneswar, is no small coincidence.
By taking an assertive stance on triple talaq, Yogi has taken a step towards fulfilling Modi's electoral promise, made in the run up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The party had promised that, once elected to power, it will intervene in the Supreme Court's case on triple talaq, taking a position that the practice promoted gender injustice and defied the right to equality.
The BJP has been quite vocal on the issue ever since the Modi government came to power. This is the first time that any government has taken an unequivocal position on triple talaq.
Modi's aggressive push for triple talaq was to enough to convince prominent tier-two and tier-three BJP leaders of the issue's social and political importance. It conveyed to them the message that they need to build the right narrative around it ahead of Supreme Court's final hearing.
The BJP's categorical position on the matter is in sharp contrast to the vague stance maintained by mainstream rival political parties like Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and others; claiming that the matter concerned religious Islamic practices and was best left to community leaders.
Yogi, in that sense, has picked up on this regressive social practice – affecting the lives of thousands of Muslim women – from where Modi left it in Bhubaneswar.
Speaking at a book launch event in Lucknow, Yogi questioned the silence of opposition political leaders, social groups and the 'so-called' progressives on the subject.
He also questioned the near absence of political narrative by rival parties on triple talaq: "The system makes them stand in court with the guilty, the supporters and those who are silent."
Yogi has for long been a religious-spiritual leader and knows that drawing a parallel between a contemporary and a mythological situation, as narrated in scriptures, gives maximum connect with people.
He cannot be faulted for drawing a parallel between Draupadi's 'chirharan' in Mahabharata with the silence of the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Nitish Kumar.
A group of Muslim women had met Yogi recently, seeking his intervention at two levels – in the legal battle pending in court and of taking up the matter with community leaders at politico-administrative level, so that an amicable solution could be found.
"Our Muslim sisters should also get justice... We do not want conflict within the Muslim community over this issue. What we have to do is that if there are any social evils, we have to wake up the society and make efforts to provide justice to Muslim women," Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari quoted Modi as saying, at the National Executive meeting.
A thumping three-fourth majority for BJP in Uttar Pradesh – winning a number of seats in Muslim dominated areas in the process – has made the party believe that Modi's message on triple talaq has gone home, where it was intended to.
It is now believed that a section of Muslim women have voted for the BJP because of its stance on triple talaq. Benefits from Ujjawala scheme, delivery of LPG cylinders to poor families in semi-urban and rural areas has been another clincher for support of a section of Muslim women to the BJP.
Since the time BJP won in Uttar Pradesh, more and more Muslim women are coming forward, voicing their anger against triple talaq.
Their strong pitch has put the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and its clerics on the defensive. The Supreme Court observed that it would hear the matter in mid-May, and come out with its verdict on the matter.
Modi and Yogi are doing smart politics over the issue – positioning themselves as reformist leaders who, despite their strong Hindutva credentials, are not afraid of picking on regressive Islamic practices to give constitutional parity to Muslim women. More so, the issue gels well with their 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' slogan.
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Updated Date: Apr 17, 2017 19:03:57 IST