The Kerala assembly united on Friday to condemn ostentatious weddings and the practice of dowry, prompting Social Welfare Minister P.K. Sreemathy to declare that the government may call an all party meeting as the first step towards a law on the issue.
About 45 minutes of the hour-long question hour was devoted to discussions on the issue with all parties agreeing that something needed to be done. Speaker K. Radhakrishnan set the tone at the beginning when he said that every member who wished to ask a question would be allowed.
"As the first step to this we will in two months call a special meeting of religious leaders, social activists and others to discuss this," said Sreemathy, adding that he would look into the social evils with utmost seriousness.
K.K. Shaju from the Janathiyapathiya Samrakshsna Samithi, an ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, said members of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) used to be role models when it came to conducting marriages without any fanfare.
"But today that is a thing of the past and even these party activists are conducting lavish marriage ceremonies," said Shaju, a top youth leader of the CPI-M.
Other MPs also spoke about their personal experiences.
Abdurahiman Randathani a first time legislator of the Indian Union Muslim League, said MPs should set examples for society to follow.
"I am proud to say I did not collect any dowry 25 years ago when I got married," said Randathani.
P.C. George of the Kerala Congress-Secular said neither he nor his son, who recently married veteran comedy artist
Jagathy Sreekumar's daughter, had taken any dowry.
"But there have been instances when rich people who get their children married do come forward and sponsor the marriages of girls from the lower strata of the society. This is one thing which we all should not forget because this is the only time that rich people do come forward to do charity," he said.
V.D Satheesan of the Congress said the marriage industry employed thousands of people, so the need of the hour was to devise a method to levy luxury tax on ostentatious marriages.