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Cong, BJP take a triple-turn to signal start of 2019 campaign

Aditya Aamir
The retort to the triple-T Bill from the likes of AIMIM MP Assauddin Owaisi is, “But what will happen to the wife and children if the husband is put behind bars?” Of course, that assumes the triple-T the husband threw at his wife was just for fun, to scare the jeepers out of her.
The Bill has gone through the Lok Sabha and is now poised to figure in the Rajya Sabha. The BJP government is banking on the Congress to support the Bill. The Congress had shown leniency in the LS, will it in the RS?
In fact, Owaisi was in a minority of one in the Lower House. To show his contempt for the Congress, the best Parliamentarian award winner asked for a “division” to every amendment he had sought to the Bill.
Apart from Owaisi others who asked “but what will happen to wife and children?” included Congress leader Rashid Ali and Muslim clerics who see their ‘dukaandari’ slipping away if triple-T gets knocked out.
They were seething on Thursday along with the ordinary Indian Muslim man who just cannot think of life without a wife to throw a triple-T at.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill has disturbed the placid lives of Indian Muslims. Muslim women, even those paying lip service to Owaisi & Co., will in general not raise a ruckus but to every “but what about wife…”, there were Muslim women who were asking, “what if he (the triple-T husband) gets bail and comes out?”
That shows the degree of intimidation many Muslim wives were subjected to by their husbands. They were mortally scared of what their husbands were capable of dong if they came out on bail.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was aware of these undercurrents. It saw the Bill as an interloper into matters strictly Sharia. AIMPLB has now said that steps would be taken to “amend, improve or scrap” the Bill.
To AIMPLB’s dismay, the Shia Waqf Board has asked the government to make the punishment more stringent. The Bill at present proposes a three-year jail term for triple-T offenders.
Meanwhile, for Rahul Gandhi, it is a Rajiv Gandhi moment: to show he is as much on the side of the Hindu fundamentalist as he is on the side of the Muslim hardliner.
In 1987, the Rajiv Gandhi government had overturned the SC verdict on the Shah Bano alimony case by unlocking Babri Masjid which was the root cause of the Mandir movement.
The BJP in 1984 had two seats in the LS, the Congress had an absolute brute majority. On Thursday, the tables were turned. Then Rajiv Gandhi stood at the crossroad, on Thursday Rahul Gandhi was looking at four-ways.
Rajiv Gandhi facilitated the rise of the BJP with his decision on Shah Bano. On Thursday Rahul Gandhi made sure he was not in the Lok Sabha along with many other Congress MPs to vote on the triple-T Bill.
It appeared like Rahul opted to take a gamble on the triple-T issue, the same as his father Rajiv had done in the Shah Bano alimony issue. It also read into his decision to embark on a temple run in Gujarat.
By all accounts, triple-T and the Congress were not on the same page but the triple-T Bill and the Congress were shoulder to shoulder. The BJP was content even if it meant losing among other things the chance to mount an all-out attack on the Congress on the gender-equality issue.
Therefore, Assauddin Owaisi, with division after division to his amendments, was defeated by the Congress at every step of the way. The Bill would likely sail through Rajya Sabha, too.
And with that both the BJP and the Congress have set in motion their campaigns for the 2019 general elections, along the way testing water in assembly elections in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

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