Mamata slams 'defective' talaq bill

Mamata Banerjee

Ahmedpur (Birbhum): Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday slammed the BJP for politicising the instant triple talaq issue and tabling a "defective" bill, speaking on the subject for the first time.

"We did not oppose the triple talaq bill strongly because we are always with women.... But the BJP has brought a wrong bill, a defective bill, in Parliament.... It is completely politically motivated," the Trinamul Congress chief said while addressing an audience of around a lakh at a government programme at Birbhum's Ahmedpur Melar Math, 18km from Santiniketan.

Mamata was referring to The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, that aims to criminalise instant triple talaq. She, however, did not elaborate on the bill's perceived flaws.

When the bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Trinamul joined the Opposition chorus demanding that it be sent to a parliamentary committee for thorough examination and consideration, primarily on account of the criminalisation clause.

In the Lok Sabha, Trinamul had preferred to maintain a "neutral" stand and not taken part in the debate.

"Far from giving protection to women, the bill will create troubles for them.... Our duty is to give priority to the protection of women, not to interfere with precepts or practices of any religion," Mamata said.

While prominent Muslim faces in Trinamul have been attending apolitical rallies against the BJP-led Centre's attempts to criminalise instant triple talaq, Mamata had not commented in public so far.

Even after the Supreme Court, on August 22 last year, declared the practice unconstitutional, Mamata maintained cautious silence.

Assam warning

On Wednesday, Mamata accused the BJP of "conspiracy" to drive Bengalis out of Assam through exclusion from the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951, being updated in the state.

"In the name of the NRC, they are conspiring to drive people out. I warn the BJP and the Centre, do not play with fire," she said, adding it was a "ploy" to drive out 1.25 crore people.

In Assam, the ruling BJP said Mamata was either "ignorant" about the rules governing the NRC exercise or the statement was made to gain political mileage.

"The statement is intended to make her Bangladeshi vote bank strong. She is scared that if such an exercise is carried out in Bengal, her vote bank will be destroyed," Assam BJP spokesperson Rupam Goswami said.

The first draft of the NRC contains the names of 1.9 crore applicants out of 3.29 crore in Assam. The update is aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in the state bordering Bangladesh.

Mamata said she had directed all Trinamul MPs to sit on a dharnaoutside Parliament to protest the "torture" on Bengalis.

"I love people from all states. People from one state can always move to another for jobs. For 30-40 years, there has been a conspiracy to drive people out of Assam.... The BJP is fanning divisive flames now," she said.


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