A united Opposition, led by the Congress party, continued to put pressure on the Centre in the Rajya Sabha for the triple talaq bill to be put before a select committee of the House, on Thursday.
This led to the Upper House getting adjourned for tomorrow.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley countered Opposition leaders, including Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien, and said the Congress party was trying to sabotage the bill.
Union Minister Smriti Irani also questioned the reluctance of the Opposition in having a discussion.
In a heated debate over the bill earlier today, O’Brien said, “It’s clear that this side [the Opposition] wants to empower women, and you [the Centre] stands exposed.”
To this end, Smriti Irani replied, “Absolutely not. If you seriously want to empower women, then have a discussion now.”
Speaking to ANI, O’Brien, after the House was adjourned, said, “Today the BJP has been exposed, and they don’t have the guts to empower women.”
Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the government was left isolated.
“The government is isolated; the Opposition is one. The bill should be sent to the select committee,” Sibal told ANI.
On her part, Smriti Irani said the Congress party stood exposed instead in the eyes of Muslim women.
“In the guise of wanting to better the bill, they [the Opposition] are trying to stall justice for the Muslim women across the country. Had the Opposition discussed the bill, there would have been a constructive approach. But today Congress stands exposed. Why is it running away from a discussion on the bill?” asked Irani.
Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prakash Javedkar said they were ready to sit in the Parliament till midnight, but the Congress party was not.
“It is because they [the Congress party] are against women empowerment. They don’t want to empower Muslim women,” Javedkar said.
Congress leader Anand Sharma had, yesterday, moved the notice to refer the bill to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha. He even proposed the names of committee members following which the Upper House witnessed a stormy session.
The names of the 17 Rajya Sabha MPs, featuring in the list, included Renuka Chowdhury, K Rahman Khan, Derek O’Brien, Javed Ahmad, Majeed Memon, KK Ragesh, and D Raja.
The government had, though a day before, shot down the Opposition’s demand that the triple talaq bill be sent to a select committee. It had, however, said it might be open to accepting some of the amendments to the bill, as suggested by the Opposition.
To this end, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Congress moved the motion without any prior notice and that it was trying to derail the bill.
The rebuttal led to the Upper House getting adjourned, following which Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Congress party of resorting to double standard in the matter of the bill.
With no consensus on the bill even today, it’s likely that the bill would be moved to the next session of the Parliament.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 seeks to criminalise instant divorce, triple talaq.
The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha with most of the leading parties in the Opposition, including the Congress, voting in favour, but with caveats.
The bill, if enacted, will make triple talaq a criminal offence. It proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife in any form of spoken, written or by electronic means such as email, SMS, and WhatsApp.