The Congress has been the harbinger of pseudo-secularism and minority appeasement in India. It has set several dubious and shameful standards of minority appeasement for electoral purposes. However, one of such misdeeds that stands out as the symbol of Congress’ treacherous minority appeasement is the enactment of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 in Parliament by the Rajiv Gandhi government at that time. Congress had ensured that the Muslim women were denied gender justice and basic rights to which women in any civilised society must be entitled.
The issue regarding payment of maintenance under Muslim law had been settled by the apex court in the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v Shah Bano Begum (1985). In this case, the husband suddenly resorted to arbitrary and capricious powers to divorce his sixty-two-year-old wife and was required to pay only the meager dowery money that was determined some four decades ago before their marriage and which at the time of divorce had no significant value given the time value of money. The Hon’ble Supreme Court did what the State had failed to do for the last 35 years, i.e. grant maintenance rights to the Muslim wife at par with her Hindu counterpart after the dissolution of marriage. But the Rajiv Gandhi Government made sure that this respite was short-lived and enacted The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 to reverse the effect of the Shah Bano judgment.
This had outrightly exposed how Congress can stoop to any extent in order to make petty electoral gains. The Congress had denied justice to Muslim women in a desperate bid of survival in India’s political landscape. Congress only lost out in popularity after this move. It had come to power with a brute majority in 1985. But it never really recovered after the loss of face on account after denying Muslim women their due share.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act had been enacted more than three decades ago. But not much has changed with the Congress. Rahul Gandhi is following in his father’s footsteps. His father had denied payment of maintenance to divorced Muslim women at par with their Hindu counterparts. And now under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the grand old party wants to bring back the Triple Talaq. The Congress party at All India Congress Committee (AICC) minority department national convention at JLN Stadium vowed to bring back Triple Talaq if voted to power. Echoing Rahul Gandhi, Congress MP Sushmita Dev said that her party will bring back the Triple Talaq law if they come to power. Earlier, she also met with Women wing of Muslim Personal Law Board who thanked her “for being their collective voice in opposing criminalizing Triple Talaq.” Triple Talaq is the representative of misogynist laws which force women to lead miserable lives. It does not augur well for a civilised society to have such a form of divorce which allows men to treat their wives as chattels.
It is because of minority appeasement politics of the pseudo-secular parties and misogynist attitude of their leaders that the Muslim women of India have been deprived of rights what other Indian women possess. Just because of such attitudes of the Congress party, it has been called a party of only Muslims. Rahul Gandhi by taking his father’s dubious legacy forward has not only played with the sentiments of the Muslim women who have been fighting for justice from archaic personal laws but has also ensured the doom of the party that he is leading. The Congress will face the wrath of a considerable section of Muslim women when it goes to Lok Sabha polls. Congress believes that Muslim women don’t have a voice of their own when it comes to elections. But the Congress has grossly miscalculated its move. It will be rejected like never before during the upcoming polls and this perfidious move will be at the root of its extinction.