Triple ta­laq row may not bring Mus­lim votes to BJP

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - Nation - Sm­riti Kak Ra­machan­dran let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

VADO­DARA: Elec­toral is­sues usu­ally mean lit­tle to Zakia Ahmed*, an anaes­thetist, and Zainab*, an en­gi­neer. The sis­ters, who strug­gled to fi­nance their ed­u­ca­tion, are more con­cerned about ev­ery­day chal­lenges faced by work­ing women in metropoli­tan cities.

Though the two are tightlipped about their choices for the up­com­ing elec­toral con­test, they seem will­ing to com­pare notes on what var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties have to of­fer them. High on their list of topics is the BJP’s cam­paign against triple ta­laq, the con­tro­ver­sial Is­lamic prac­tice of in­stant di­vorce. Both unan­i­mously say the party did well in ap­pro­pri­at­ing the is­sue. “It is a very good step,” Zainab says.

The sis­ters, how­ever, are far from swayed by the cam­paign. Zakia, who was able to pay for her med­i­cal col­lege fee through a pri­vate Jed­dha bank’s phi­lan­thropy pro­gramme, says they would be more im­pressed if the BJP were to of­fer fi­nan­cial aid to the com­mu­nity – so women like her could pur­sue their dreams.

While many ad­mit that triple ta­laq could pave the way for the com­mu­nity to bring in sim­i­lar re­forms, there is lit­tle ev­i­dence to show the un­ease and dis­trust to­wards the saf­fron party (which emerged as a con­se­quence of the 2002 ri­ots) have dis­si­pated.

“While a small sec­tion of the Mus­lims has al­ways voted for the BJP, there is no in­di­ca­tion more will join in be­cause of the triple ta­laq is­sue,” said an Ahmedabad-based ed­u­ca­tion­ist on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

Rashida Ben, who works with NGO Ad­hikar Prapti Ken­dra in Ahmedabad, says the com­mu­nity is not in­ter­est in triple ta­laq. “There are courts for that. We are more in­ter­ested in know­ing why BJP did not ful­fil its prom­ises of pro­vid­ing jobs and de­posit­ing money in our ac­counts.”

As per 2011 Cen­sus, Mus­lims con­sti­tute 9.67% of Gu­jarat’s pop­u­la­tion, dom­i­nat­ing as many as 20 as­sem­bly con­stituen­cies in mostly ur­ban ar­eas. But there are no signs the com­mu­nity is im­pressed with the gov­ern­ment.

“Un­like 2012, Mus­lims now see a vi­able al­ter­na­tive in Congress,” says Afroz Alam, head of the po­lit­i­cal sci­ence depart­ment at the Maulana Azad Na­tional Urdu Univer­sity, Hyderabad.

He be­lieves the BJP’s pitch was more of an im­age-chang­ing ex­er­cise to project it­self as a sec­u­lar and cen­trist party.

(*Names changed on re­quest)

AFP FILE

n Though BJP’s ef­forts are ap­pre­ci­ated, there is lit­tle ev­i­dence the un­ease and dis­trust to­wards the saf­fron party have dis­si­pated.

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