How NDA made sure numbers played against Opposition on triple talaq bill
When the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha started on Tuesday , it was almost clear to the Opposition parties that they would not be able to win the battle against the NDA over the Triple Talaq bill. Parties such as the BSP, the Telugu Desam Party, many leaders of the Samajwadi Party, and the NCP’s Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel were missing in action. As the debate on the bill progressed, many more MPs —including from parties such as the Congress, PDP and one from Trinamool Congress -- disappeared.
Senior leaders of the Congress, the Trinamool, the DMK and the Left met on Tuesday afternoon before the bill was taken up for discussion. They did a quick calculation and found that they would not be able to touch even 90 votes, an indication that the BJP-led NDA would pass another key bill—after the RTI amendments one—easily in the Upper House. At least two leaders called to inform their respective party leaders that they wouldn’t be able to stop the bill.
WATCH: Triple Talaq Bill passed in RS: BJP hails decision, oppn calls it ‘mistake’
Left and Trinamool leaders tried reaching out to the Biju Janata Dal for support. “We were helpless. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik called all his MPs this morning and told them categorically that the BJD can’t vote against the NDA on this bill,” said a BJD leader who asked not to be named. Similarly, the YSRCP and the TRS refused to side with the Opposition citing their reservation about being seen as aligned with the Congress.
The TDP has two members but one of them didn’t come to the House. “Another TDP member who sat through the debate but was nowehere to be seen when the voting started,” said a senior Opposition MP who asked not to be named.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted this morning about the requirement of the bill. “Fail to understand the need to pass the triple talaq bill especially since the Supreme Court had already declared it illegal. Undue interference seemingly to punish Muslims. Given the current state of the economy, should this really have been a priority?” she tweeted. Still, during the voting, the two PDP MPs abstained.
Smaller parties have blamed the Congress for the mismanagement. CPIM’s Rajya Sabha leader Elamaram Kareem said, “As the biggest Opposition party, the Congress failed to take the lead to bring the entire Opposition together.” Trinamool’s floor leader Derek O’Brien quipped, “The BJP’s invisible allies, the ED and the CBI, were seen today. They did the job for the BJP,” indicating that there was pressure on a section of the Opposition.
NC chief Omar Abdullah, however, said, “The floor management of the BJP/NDA in the Rajya Sabha is quite something. So much for the treasury side not having the numbers in the upper house! I’d be amazed if there is a single piece of legislation the Government will struggle with in the Rajya Sabha.”
He also took a dig at Mufti saying: “You might want to check how your members voted on this bill before tweeting. I understand they abstained which helped the government with the numbers needed to pass the bill. You can’t help the government & then “fail to understand need to pass”!”
DMK’s Kanimozhi lashed out at the AIADMK for walking out after protesting against the bill. “It’s a shame that the AIADMK walked out to facilitate the passing of the triple talaq bill in Rajya Sabha,” she said.
The government won the vote 99-84.