NEW DELHI – The bill to ban Triple Talaq, opposed bitterly since the idea was floated in the first term of the Narendra Modi government, unexpectedly passed the Rajya Sabha test on Tuesday. Despite the shortage of numbers in the NDA, the opposition crumbled. While the stand of the non-aligned parties helped the bill, what further aided it was a huge hole in the opposition ranks.
No less than 22 opposition lawmakers gave the voting a miss today.
There were five absentees from the Congress including Oscar Fernandes, six from Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, four from Mayawati’s BSP and two from the Trinamool Congress; both Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel were absent from the NCP, one each from Lalu Yadav’s RJD, MK Stalin’s DMK and the CPI.
While Sharad Pawar said he could not attend because of health reasons, no explanations came from the other parties. The Congress, which was the only party to issue a whip demanding that all its lawmakers attend Rajya Sabha today, is yet to comment on the matter.
In the 242-member Rajya Sabha, the ruling National Democratic Alliance has 107 members, well short of the 121 majority mark. But the bill passed through with 99 votes in its favour to 84 against it.
The majority mark slid as non-aligned parties like Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal had supported the bill and ally Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United and the AIADMK walked out before voting. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP abstained.
National Conference chief Omar Abdullah tweeted:
The floor management of the BJP/NDA in the Rajya Sabha is quite something. So much for the treasury side not having the numbers in the upper house! I’d be amazed if there is a single piece of legislation the Government will struggle with in the Rajya Sabha. https://t.co/qMEXOuxaBu
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) July 30, 2019
A response came from Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien:
Not floor management. #TripleTalaqBill It’s the invisible and most dependable allies of the BJP: CBI and ED
— Derek O'Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) July 30, 2019
This is the second contentious bill, after the Right To Information (RTI) Act, to be passed in Rajya Sabha in a week despite the government lacking numbers.
With the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill now clearing both Houses of Parliament, the practice of instant divorce by Muslim men will be punishable by jail term of up to three years.
The Bill had cleared the Lok Sabha during the first term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, but failed to clear the Rajya Sabha.
The opposition parties say in its current form, the proposed law could be misused to harass Muslims and wanted it to be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.
The government maintains that the Triple Talaq bill is a step towards ensuring gender equality and justice and that the opposition parties were politicising the issue.