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Will BJP's Stand On Triple Talaq Help it Make Inroads Into Muslim Community?

By: Sumit Pande

Edited By: Aditya Nair


Last Updated: August 22, 2017, 17:27 IST

Picture for representational purposes. (Getty Images)

Picture for representational purposes. (Getty Images)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on multiple occasions come out in support of Muslim women, terming his stand against triple talaq a matter women empowerment.

New Delhi: For the BJP, does the road to 2019 begin with Supreme Court quashing triple talaq in a majority judgment? And does the historic verdict give BJP that one elusive opening in the community which was considered out of the party’s catchment area.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on multiple occasions come out in support of Muslim women, terming his stand against triple talaq a matter of women empowerment. Within hours of the SC reading out the order, BJP President Amit Shah hailed the decision as the beginning of a new era of equality for Muslim women.

“The BJP sees today’s order as a step towards a determined ‘New India’,” Shah said in a statement.

It is precisely this constituency, within the minorities, that the BJP would be targeting in the days ahead as it would attempt to make inroads in areas once considered out of bounds.

BJP’s support for triple talaq is also rooted in party’s larger attempt to rake up issues which would bring out political conflict or paradox in its ideological opponents. Especially, the Congress and the liberal Left.

“The Left is liberal and so is Congress. They have all these years survived on the minority support. But issues like triple talaq are the ones when they are on the back-foot and bring out the inherent contradictions within these parties,” says a BJP leader.

Not surprisingly, within minutes of Amit Shah’s press conference at Delhi headquarters, Congress had to follow the suit, welcoming the SC order.

It is not that there has been no communication between the RSS-BJP on one side and the Muslims as a large social-political block on the other. In the run-up to the general elections in 2014, a senior BJP leader was invited to attend a closed-door meeting of leaders from the Muslim community.

Strong and powerful speeches were made, recalls the leader who attended. And most speakers insisted on one point that BJP as a national party can’t ignore a large minority community like Muslims if it aimed to come to power on its own. The import of 2014 victory for the BJP lies as much in winning a complete majority, but also shattering this notion. Uttar Pradesh in 2017 reinforced the idea.

“Minorities losing representation and participation in government will trigger a rethink and recalibration in the policy. You can’t keep a large electoral group eternally away from the BJP,” said another BJP leader.

In Uttar Pradesh elections, though there was no empirical proof to back these claims, party leaders in off-the-record conversations attributed BJP’s victory in high minority density areas to a section of Muslim women voting for the party. During the multi-phased campaign, the party had tactically raked up the issue. And triple talaq, as it appears, is probably just the beginning of BJP’s larger attempt to disrupt the political status quo. In the run-up to the 2019 general elections, issues core to party’s ideology may find resonance in the political discourse once again.

Its opposition to Article 370 — along with 35(A) — for instance, is being heard by the SC. It is an issue well entrenched in the party ideology since Jan Sangh days. Opposing Nehru’s Kashmir policy, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee coined the slogan “Ek vihdan, ek nishaan and ek Pradhan”.

Decades later, trying to find its feet again after the massive drubbing in 1984 general elections, BJP at its historic Palampur National Executive in Himachal Pradesh passed a resolution seeking disputed land in Ayodhya be handed over to the Hindus for the construction of a grand Ram Temple. BJP, since then has called it ‘aastha ka sawaal’ — a matter of faith. The matter is again before the apex court.

The third feature which BJP underscored as part of its distinct agenda has been the Uniform Civil Code. Law Commission has already issued a questioner on UCC and is in the process of tabulating over 40,000 responses received so far.

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    Put these three together, and BJP would metamorphose to what LK Advani would often call as a “party with a difference”. And the cadre, he said, should not be apologetic about its ideological moorings.