- PM has urged Muslim community "to not allow the issue to get politicised"
- Top Court to hear petitions challenging triple "talaq" starting May 11
- Swami Prasad Maurya is a cabinet minister in the UP government
"These talaqs have no basis... if someone only for satisfying his lust keeps changing his wives and forces his own wife and children on the streets to beg... no one will call this as right... BJP stands with Muslim women who have been given talaq unreasonably, and arbitrarily," Mr Maurya said late on Friday night in Basti district, 200 km from state capital Lucknow.
The 63-year-old BJP leader's comment, which was slammed not just by political parties but the harshest critics of triple talaq as well, come around the time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon the community leaders to take the lead to save their daughters and cautioned them against letting the issue get politicised.
Shaista Amber, president of the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board, that has led the campaign against triple talaq, called the statement "shameful" and asked Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to drop the minister who has insulted all women. "He (Maurya) should be sent to a mental asylum, as he has shattered the honour of the Muslims, especially women," Ms Amber said.
For Mr Maurya, an influential face of backward classes in the state, this isn't the first time that he has left red faces in his party with his views. In 2014, Mr Maurya was reported to have lashed out at upper caste Hindus, declaring that Hinduism had not place for humans. Then, he was in the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party which promptly issued a statement distancing the BSP from such remarks.
Three years later, now in the BJP which had imported him in the months ahead of the 2017 elections to consolidate the backward votes, the four-time lawmaker had a new target to throw darts at.
Starting May 11, the Supreme Court will hear petitions challenging the practice of instant divorce by uttering "talaq" thrice and debating whether the court has the right to step in. Among the petitioners is a woman who was divorced by her husband on WhatsApp.
Earlier this month, the Modi government told the Supreme Court that 'triple talaq' was among customs that impact the social status and dignity of Muslim women and deny them fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.