Close on the heels of the Congress promising to scrap the Triple Talaq Bill if voted to power, Union Minister Arun Jaitley today accused the opposition party of practising political opportunism that's based on living only for "the next day's headlines". He cited the case of a Muslim woman from Bareilly who was twice divorced by her husband through the controversial Islamic practice of instant divorce, and then allegedly forced to perform nikah-halala with her father-in-law and brother-in-law, to drive home his point.
"That there should be such gross violation of the dignity of women in the world's largest democracy in the 21st Century should make every head hang in shame... Unfortunately, when human conscience should have been repelled while reading this news in the morning newspapers, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his coterie promised to withdraw the legislation pending in parliament," Mr Jaitley wrote in his social media post, titled "Does the Bareilly Nikah-Halala Not Shock Your Conscience?".
Under nikah-halala, a man cannot remarry his former wife unless she weds another man, consummates the marriage, gets a divorce and observes a period of separation period called iddat.
The revised bill to make instant triple talaq - a practice among Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering talaq or divorce thrice - a punishable offence was passed in the Lok Sabha late last year. The Congress has said it will not allow the passage of the proposed legislation in its present form in the Rajya Sabha, where the government does not have a majority. The opposition party opposes stringent provisions, such as imprisonment, for those convicted under the law.
The blog by Arun Jaitley also charged Rajiv Gandhi -- late Prime Minister and father of Congress president Rahul Gandhi -- of making a "monumental mistake" by overturning a 1985 Supreme Court judgment that guaranteed maintenance to all Muslim women. "This allowed deserted women to be driven to poverty and destitution," it said.
The Union Minister said that today, 32 years later, his son has taken another retrograde step to drive them not merely into destitution, but also to live a life that is "an antithesis of human existence". He also alleged that Muslim women in Bareilly have been forced into "animal existence".
Arun Jaitley ended his post with a line that seemed to insinuate that the BJP stands on a higher moral ground than the Congress. "Votes are important, but so is fairness. Political opportunists only look at the next day's headlines, but nation-builders look at the next century," it said.
(With inputs from ANI)