Triple talaq row may not bring Muslim votes to BJP
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)
n Though BJP’s efforts are appreciated, there is little evidence the unease and distrust towards the saffron party have dissipated.