Monday, 30th October 2017

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Emboldened BJP readies to push more bills

Party insiders said their pitch for a uniform civil code will gain legitimacy after the criminalisation of instant triple talaq

By J.P. Yadav in New Delhi
  • Published 1.08.19, 2:07 AM
  • Updated 1.08.19, 2:07 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Amit Shah arrives in Parliament on Wednesday. (PTI)

The passage of the bills on the right to information and instant triple talaq in the Rajya Saha appears to have emboldened the BJP to push more controversial pieces of legislation that have formed the core of its ideology for decades.

The BJP managers, led by home minister Amit Shah, ensured that the two bills were passed in the upper House although the ruling coalition lacks a majority there. Walkouts by some parties and abstentions by MPs opposed to the legislation helped the BJP win the number game.

“If we managed to pass the instant triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha, we can also get bills like the citizenship amendment bill and that to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A passed,” a BJP leader said. “The passage of the talaq bill is a big victory for us and our ideology,” the leader added.

Articles 370 and 35A grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and the BJP’s poll manifesto promises to scrap them. The Citizenship Amendment Bill proposes to accord Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India even if they do not possess any documents.

The decision to keep out Muslims from the citizenship bill provision, coupled with Amit Shah’s election promise of implementing the national register of citizens (NRC) across the country, is being seen by critics as an effort by the BJP to push its core ideology.

Party insiders said their pitch for a uniform civil code, which they had been forced to keep in abeyance because of lack of strength, will gain legitimacy after the criminalisation of instant triple talaq.

The BJP had tried to push the instant triple talaq and the citizenship amendment bills in its first tenure. The government had managed to push them through the Lok Sabha but got stuck in the Rajya Sabha. With the dissolution of the Lok Sabha after the general election, the bills lapsed and a fresh process to pass them in both Houses of Parliament had to be initiated.

Emboldened by their stupendous victory in the general election, the BJP launched a drive to strengthen its position in the Rajya Sabha. A bunch of defections and some resignations followed but still the party needed to manage parties inside and outside the NDA fold to get the bills passed.

“You saw how we managed the numbers and got the triple talaq bill passed,” one BJP MP said. The MP pointed out how Amit Shah sat through the marathon debate on the bill in the Rajya Sabha and ensured it was passed. “Each and every member of the House, whether for or against us, was marked,” the MP said.

In the natural course, the NDA is set to gain the upper hand in the Rajya Sabha by 2021 with vacancies arising in states like Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is in power with a big majority. The ruling party, however, appears to be in a tearing hurry to gain domination in the Rajya Sabha.

So far, four TDP members and one INLD MP in the upper House have joined the BJP. Two more, Neeraj Shekhar of the Samajwadi Party and Sanjay Singh of the Congress, have resigned as MPs and joined the BJP.

Party insiders said the strategy of getting MPs to resign was aimed at gaining numbers in the Rajya Sabha before 2021. Byelections are held when an MP resigns.