The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday set aside regressive triple talaq practice among Muslims after terming it unconstitutional in a 3:2 majority verdict. As soon as it was announced, BJP members across the country broke into celebrations with top leaders hailing the judgement as a much needed step towards the beginning of a new era of self respect and equality for Muslim women. Party chief Amit Shah even said the BJP saw the verdict as “a resolute step towards a New India”.
However, the saffron party couldn’t hide its political agenda behind the fervent celebrations of apex court verdict on triple talaq. This has been apparent ever since the BJP included triple talaq issue in its 2014 General Elections manifesto and followed it up during the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh this year.
It is true that BJP was the only national party taking a clear stand against triple talaq and Prime Minister Narendra Modi the tallest leader who openly spoke for rights of the victims of this practice. However, triple talaq was never just an issue of gender justice for BJP but also a political tool to make inroads among Muslim women voters. And, more than them, progressive Hindus as well as their own hardcore supporters, who don’t have a positive view of the Muslim Personal Laws.
Following historic victory in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections this year, including in most of the Muslim-dominated constituencies, the BJP had claimed to have received the votes of Muslim women. Though there is no reliable data to prove their claim, the party is now hopeful of reaping the benefit of triple talaq verdict in upcoming assembly elections as well as in the 2019 General Elections.
BJP chief Amit Shah had recently announced his target of winning 360 plus seats in 2019. As many as 15 states – Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Odisha, Meghalaya – will go to polls in the next two years.
A report by Hindi Daily Dainik Bhaskar today said BJP may gain votes of Muslim women in as many as 218 seats of Lok Sabha and around 166 Legislative Assembly seats in the 15 states. Out of the total 1747 Assembly seats in these states, Muslims are in majority is as many as 166 seats. In Gujarat and Karnataka, which are going to polls early next year, there are 34 and 40 Muslim-majority seats respectively.
On Tuesday, almost every major media publication in India reported BJP stands to gain politically from the verdict. The party itself didn’t say anything openly on this but left enough to reveal it would aggressively sell the triple talaq case “victory” in upcoming elections. While Amit Shah claimed it as a step towards New India, some other leaders tried to appropriate the credit of triple talaq judgement to PM Modi.