Bhubaneswar: The Congress on Wednesday sought a clarification from Odisha Chief Minister and BJP chief Naveen Patnaik over his party's open support to the triple talaq bill.
Jeypore MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati raised the issue during the Zero Hour in the Odisha Assembly and said it shows "double standards" of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
In a big victory, the Modi government secured Rajya Sabha's clearance for the landmark bill helped by support from the BJD, walkout by BJP allies JD(U) and AIADMK and some abstentions to get Parliament's approval for the contentious legislation.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill that makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence was passed with 99 votes in favour and 84 against. It was a major legislative success for the BJP-led NDA in the opposition-dominated Upper House where it lacks majority.
The Lok Sabha had passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 last week.
"Why do you claim to be maintaining equal distance from both the BJP and the Congress?" Bahinipati questioned, alleging that Patnaik has been supporting the BJP in all bills and issues.
"Is not it a double standard of BJD? You are criticising the BJP during elections and fighting it in Odisha. At the same time, you have been supporting the NDA in different bills," he said and demanded a clarification from the BJD president.
While talking to reporters outside the assembly, Bahinipati said the chief minister must make his party's stand clear. "Is the government in Odisha a coalition government of BJD and BJP?"
Bahinipati alleged that Patnaik and his party were with the BJP though they fight each other in Odisha.
"He has supported a BJP candidate in the recently concluded Rajya Sabha election and also supported the NDA government in the RTI (amendment) Bill," Bahinipati said.
The MLA said that the Congress was not opposed to the triple talaq bill but wanted certain changes in its provision. "The BJP did not agree and got it passed with support of parties like the BJD," he said.
Government's Chief Whip and senior BJD leader Pramila Mallick defended her party's stand and ridiculed Bahinipati's statement.
She said there should be no question on the BJD's support to the triple talaq bill as the party is committed to the protection of women's interest in the country.
"The MLA is saying about the equal-distance policy of BJD, I want to ask him where the Congress votes have gone in Odisha? In the recently concluded elections in Patkura assembly segment the Congress votes were transferred to BJP. The Congress has compromised with BJP," Mallick said.
Senior BJD member and former minister Amar Prasad Satpathy said Patnaik has all along fought for the interest of women and therefore gave them 30 per cent of the party's tickets in the Lok Sabha polls.
"The BJD's support to the triple talaq bill should not be politicised," he added.