A day after Shiv Sena turned against the BJP on the Rafale deal, a key ally has rebelled against the party on another contentious issue. Bihar ally Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United today sharply criticized the BJP, saying the bill, criminalising instant Triple Talaq, was being "rushed" and if it comes up for passing in Rajya Sabha, it would vote against the government.
The opposition has closed ranks against the Triple Talaq bill in the upper house demanding the bill, seen as anti-Muslim, be sent to a select parliamentary committee for scrutiny. Monday's discussion on the bill in Rajya Sabha, where the opposition has majority, remained inconclusive and the matter is expected to come up today.
"We feel the way this bill is being rushed, it was avoidable and we feel more consultation should have taken place," senior JD(U) leader Vashishta Narayan Singh told NDTV. Asked what would be the party's stand in case the voting takes place, he said, "We will vote against the government".
The JD(U)'s stand underscores the trouble the BJP is facing from its allies since it faced an electoral setback in the latest round of assembly polls in the heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
There has been a pushback from ally Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janashakti Party over seat sharing for the national elections. Both LJP and Nitish Kumar have made it clear that they do not support the BJP's temple agenda.
In Uttar Pradesh, regional ally Apna Dal too asserted itself over seat sharing, declaring they will boycott all events in Parliament till the differences are sorted.
Yesterday, the Shiv Sena ranged itself alongside the opposition over the Rafale jet fighter deal, suggesting there was nothing wrong with having an investigation into the matter by a joint parliamentary committee.
JD(U) insiders say Mr Kumar has not made up its mind on the Rafale issue in view of the Supreme Court judgment in the matter. During Monday's voting In the Lok Sabha, its two lawmakers had abstained.
The party's decision on Triple Talaq, however, is not unexpected.
Though the JD(U) has spelt out its stand now, Mr Kumar had reservations over this issue. He even wrote to the state's Law Commission, seeking an opinion on whether the party can impose an agenda over a minority community.
Bihar has 16 percent of Muslims who have traditionally voted for Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.
While the BJP has not officially commented on the matter, its leaders privately said that everyone has their compulsions and are free to vote as they choose.