In politics, intent is as important as the objective. Then comes the way a political move is timed—and by whom?
On all three counts, leaving aside the Constitutional principle of equality, the NDA’s stance on the retrograde practice of triple talaq lends itself to scrutiny. So does the Law Commission’s public outreach on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
As is evident from the Muslim Personal Law Board’s charge that the NDA’s purpose was to trigger a war within, building a consensus on these vexed questions needed a better social ambience. In a modern society, such reforms are essential. But to acquire traction within the Muslim community that’s the second largest in the country after the Hindus, the initiative needed credible stewardship.
The picture would become clearer if one juxtaposed with these issues the protracted ferment in Kashmir and the politics being played on the army’s professionally executed surgical strikes across the Line of Control. One might shy away from accepting it. But the PDP-BJP regime hasn’t exactly covered itself with glory in Kashmir, which is a faith-based conundrum bequeathed by history.
On account of the ongoing unrest, Kashmir’s grave national security and human rights dimensions cannot be understated. Together with the RSS chief’s defense of cow vigilante-ism in his Dussehra address, the triple talaq-UCC debate is bound to be exploited by elements attempting a psychological secession of the Kashmiri youth.
The rest of the country has been ‘India’ for a section of Kashmiris since Partition. On a recent visit to the Valley, one heard scores of them calling it “Hindu India” that offered them no social, political or emotional space.
Not that previous regimes were better, the post-2014 aggressive majoritarianism— enduring images of which are the Dadri episode and Kashmiri students’ mistreatment in other states—have deepened distrust. Even before the shocking Uri attack that became a ‘counter-narrative’ to the Valley’s pellet-riddled faces, Kashmir had become, or was made to look, part of the anti-Pakistan mosaic in the rest of India.
Irrespective of its progressive intra-community dimension, the triple talaq- UCC discourse is viewed as regressive by Muslims in Kashmir and elsewhere. They suspect not just the intent but also the timing of the debate that has found official resonance after the surgical strikes and before polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
“The religio-military nationalist frenzy that’s being unleashed is deeply polarising. It doubts our credentials, pits us against other countrymen by showing us as reason of their grievance,” said a university teacher. He attributed his reluctance to get quoted by name to his “psychological mowing down by a crescendo of discouraging voices.”
For his part, Dr Subrata Mukherjee, former professor of political science in Delhi University, was upfront in his reading of the situation: “The NDA’s silent on disparities in the Hindu society but cites constitutional provisions to reform Muslims.” The intention, he said, is political, not social; the objective electoral.