NEW DELHI: Even as the Narendra Modi government prepares to push the triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha, a senior Congress leader on Friday compared the sufferings of Indian Muslim women with that of Goddess Sita who was abandoned by her husband Lord Ram.
The remarks were made by Congress MP Hussain Dalwai, who also called for further modification in the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, which criminalises instant divorce.
Speaking to Zee News, Dalwai said, ''The Modi government is not interested in the welfare of Muslim women. The government's promise of giving more rights to the Muslim women and empowering them is just an eye-wash.''
Though the Union Cabinet has proposed three changes in the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, a lot still needs to be done, the Congress MP said.
While expressing his views on the amended triple talaq bill, Dalwai triggered a controversy by saying, ''Women are being treated unfairly in all communities, not just Muslims, even Hindus, Christians, Sikhs etc. In every society, there is male domination. Even Shree Ram Chandra ji once left Sita ji after doubting her. So we need to change as a whole.''
Dalwai later clarified on his remarks made on Lord Ram.
The Congress MP said that he is a devotee of the deity too. But, what he said was meant to highlight the fact that even Hindu women had suffered a lot since the ancient times.
The Maharashtra Congress leader, however, said that what he said was not meant to malign any religion.
Dalwai had last year written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, saying the move to criminalise the practice of triple talaq was ‘extremely problematic’.
The Congress MP said that while he was opposed to the practice of triple talaq in principle, the government’s move was selectively targeting Muslims.
BJP's Rakesh Sinha, an RSS ideologue who was recently nominated to the Rajya Sabha, hit back at Dalwai, saying that he has no right to drag Lord Ram's name in the debate over triple talaq.
Those opposing the triple talaq bill had the Taliban-like mindset, Sinha said.
Several BJP MPs too raised objections to Dalwai's statement in the Rajya Sabha and the demanded the same to be expunged.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today urged the Congress to support the amended triple talaq Bill. Prasad said the bill seeks justice for crores of women.
However, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today said that her party's stand on the triple talaq bill is quite clear.
The war of words between the government and the Congress-led Opposition comes at a time when ruling side is preparing to push the much-debated triple talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Importantly, the Union Cabinet on Thursday proposed three changes in the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, 2017 - first, only the victim, a blood relation or relation by marriage are allowed to lodge FIR in the case, second, the case can be dropped if the husband and wife agree to settle their differences and third, a magistrate can grant bail to men found guilty of giving instant triple talaq to their wives.
However, the offence still remains non-bailable.
If the amended bill is passed in the Upper House, it will have to go back to Lok Sabha for approval of the amendments.
On December 29, the Lok Sabha passed the bill which seeks to make instant triple talaq a criminal offence, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government tabled it in the lower house.
The Bill 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.
Triple talaq, or verbal divorce, is practised by a section in the Muslim community to instantly divorce their wives by uttering `talaq` three times.
(With Agency inputs)