Modi had asked the Muslim community to ensure that the triple talaq issue was not 'politicised'. Photograph: (Reuters)
India's opposition Saturday charged the prime minister with politicising the triple talaq issue to gain electoral mileage even as a BJP minister in Uttar Pradesh said Muslim men use it to change wives and satisfy their "lust".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had this morning urged the Muslim community to ensure that the triple talaq issue was not "politicised", and hoped that intellectuals from the community would come forward to fight the practice.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said no other political party except the BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS, was trying to politicise the issue.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said no Muslim believes in triple talaq while moving around and the practice is adhered to as per the holy Quran in which certain norms and time-frame has been laid.
"When the society is already discussing this issue of triple talaq and the court (the Supreme Court) is looking into it, then why is the BJP unnecessarily coming in between Muslim women and their Muslim husbands. The BJP should not make attempts at creating a new vote bank," he told reporters here.
Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said Modi was speaking of such issues with an eye on the Karnataka assembly elections slated next year.
"The prime minister spoke all such things, eyeing the upcoming election in Karnataka," he said.
Criticising Modi for his comments on triple talaq, SP leader Mohd Azam Khan said the prime minister should also speak on other problems being faced by Muslim women.
"Modi should speak about the other problems (besides triple talaq) of Muslims women," Khan said.
He said the prime minister should also show sympathy with those Muslim women who have lost their sons or husbands due to violence by cow vigilantes.
Referring to Gujarat riots of 2002, he said Modi should also talk about the violence in the state that destroyed the homes of many Muslim women.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said Modi should not speak on issues which are pending in the court.
"First you bring improvement within yourself (community), then you talk of betterment of Muslims," he said.
BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli, however, defended the prime minister, saying the Modi government is working for the dignity of every Indian.
"The comments have to be seen as a benchmark of women rights in terms of constitutional right of equality," he said.
In Uttar Pradesh's Basti district, state minister Swami Prasad Maurya alleged last night that Muslims use triple talaq to change wives and satisfy their "lust", remarks that are likely to spur a controversy.
The BJP minister's comments come at a time when there is a raging debate over the issue of triple talaq.
"The BJP stands with Muslim women who have been given talaq unreasonably and arbitrarily," Maurya told reporters.
"These talaqs have no basis... If someone only for satisfying his lust keeps changing his wives and forces his own wife and children on the streets to beg...No one will call this as right", he said.