Muslims say Modi's support for abolishing triple talaq may be factor in UP win

Mar 15, 2017, 09:46 IST | Hemal Ashar

It was the triple T that nobody wanted to touch but now, analysts are saying that talaq, talaq, talaq has turned into triumph, triumph, triumph for Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Do away with the triple talaq
Do away with the triple talaq

It was the triple T that nobody wanted to touch but now, analysts are saying that talaq, talaq, talaq has turned into triumph, triumph, triumph for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Post the sweeping Uttar Pradesh win, it is still political analysis time for experts. Several claim that of the many arrows that found the ballot bullseye was Modi's speaking about triple talaq and supporting the abolishment of instant divorce as it is called.

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan's (BMMA) Zakia Soman, who was also in the forefront of the Haji Ali Sab Ke Liye movement in Mumbai, and is now pushing for abolishing the regressive triple T, says, "Every Muslim woman would want triple talaq to go but it is difficult to find out who voted and how. The thumping majority suggests that there has been huge preference for Modi."

Zakia though adds that there was nothing stopping other political parties from supporting their stand. "All political leaders including Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati too should have supported this demand of Muslim women. What is wrong in supporting women's demand for justice? All elected representatives have a constitutional obligation to uphold gender equality and sadly all of them have failed in it so far."

Zakia Soman
Zakia Soman

Centrist wooing
For city activist Firoze Mithiborwala, "the communist parties, the CPI and CPM are already supportive of doing away with instant divorce. In the current context, the Hindu right wing has always been with Modi. Yet, with this stand, the PM was appealing to the centrist Hindu voter, when he hears Modi speaking about women's rights and progressive issues; it is appealing to that demographic." Mithiborewala adds that, "unfortunately we will of course never know for sure because there cannot be a scientific or sociological study of the impact of certain statements on an election, but, this may have played some part, we cannot dismiss it completely."

Yet for lawyer and women's rights activist, Flavia Agnes, "Modi was playing a political card. Triple Talaq is violence on women, pure and simple." For Flavia it is not enough that Modi speaks on this, "he should also speak about, dowry deaths. Today, he claims his heart is bleeding and he is crying for the women affected by triple talaq." Flavia ends dismissively, "I refuse to believe that his statements about supporting triple talaq have any bearing on the UP win."

Politically convenient?
Mumbai's Javed Anand, convenor, Indian Muslims for a Secular Democracy, explains, "there are three women petitioners in the abolish triple talaq case and they are supported by different organisations. This is essentially a movement of and by Muslim women, supported by Muslim men." Javed adds, "Modi used it so that it became politically convenient during the UP election. The Muslim votes got scattered, so I doubt that this played a significant part in the win, yet some television images have been showing Muslim women in burkhas saying they voted Modi, because he supports abolishing triple talaq."

In the end though All India Muslim Womens Personal Law Board founder Shaista Amber, from Lucknow is more hopeful of Modi's win than her Mumbai supporters. 'Yes, this may have played a part in the UP win, because even men, brothers and fathers who are witness to the injustice, are with those who want it abolished. They were inclined to vote Modi," says Amber adding, "Now, Modi and the BJP which has stepped through the doors in UP in triumph do what the Congress has not done in all their years in power."

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