The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha but was stuck in the Upper House due to numbers that were not favorable for the saffron party.
Triple Talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha: The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019 — better known as the Triple Talaq Bill — is expected to come up in the Rajya Sabha any day now. The Bill makes instant divorce in written or electronic form illegal and a criminal offense. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been pushing for this bill for a very long time and also formed part of its manifesto in the recently concluded parliamentary elections. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha but was stuck in the Upper House due to numbers that were not favorable for the saffron party.
The BJP currently has 78 members in the Rajya Sabha on its own while the NDA has 116. The Congress-led UPA, which is against the bill, has 107 members in the House. The BJP requires 123 votes in the 245-member House to get the Bill passed.
While the numbers may show the BJP taking a clear lead against the Opposition, this is going to be no cakewalk for the Narendra Modi government and it may have to rely on the support of some of the parties including the K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party. These parties, which command 15 members in the house, have maintained silence on their next move and could prove crucial for the government’s plans. The saffron party could sail through the Rajya Sabha test if it succeeds in taking these three neutral players on board.
The opposition parties including Congress and AIMIM have been objecting to some of the provisions in the bill and want it to be referred to a select committee. Some of them want the Centre to drop the provision that makes the offense a criminal act. They argue if the person accused in the case is jailed then who will take care of family or the woman who is a victim. However, the Centre has defended the provision saying it will act as a deterrent.
But the opposition parties are not the only problem for the saffron party. Some of its own alliance partners have raised objections to some provisions of the Bill. Nitish Kumar’s JDU and AIADMK have already questioned the criminality provision in the Bill. Senior JDU leader and Bihar minister Shyam Razak said that his party is against the Triple Talaq Bill and will continue to stand against it. Kumar has publicly opposed the Bill as well and it is highly likely that these parties abstain during voting for the passage of the Bill.
In case, these two parties abstain, the NDA’s strength will come down by 19 votes — JDU has six members and AIADMK has 13. The requirement for the passage of the bill will also come down by the same number. In this case, the NDA will have 97 members and it would need 114 votes to get the Bill cleared. It looks possible if TRS, BJD, and YSRCP extend their support to the government. But the question is: Will Naveen, KCR and Jagan rescue Prime Minister Modi in the Rajya Sabha?