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BJP plans to use triple talaq petitioner Ishrat Jahan for LS bypoll campaign

Triple talaq petitioner Ishrat Jahan was divorced by her husband over the phone from Dubai in 2014 by uttering ‘talaq’ thrice.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2018 19:56 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Triple Talaq,Ishrat Jahan,BJP
Ishrat Jahan (Samir Jana/HT Photo)

Once bitten, West Bengal’s BJP unit is protecting an ace it may have in triple talaq petitioner Ishrat Jahan. The party intends to use her to campaign for the Lok Sabha by-election in Muslim-dominated Uluberia constituency in Howrah on January 29.

After reports emerged that Jahan, 31, who lives in Howrah, had joined the BJP, the party said a “formal induction” was yet to happen.

“She has expressed her willingness to join our party, but has not formally joined yet. We are ready to welcome her,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh told HT on Monday.

“She is an icon of fighting for justice. Our party stood by her during her days of struggle. Once she joins, she will campaign for the party in the Uluberia by-election and appeal to Muslim women,” said Ghosh.

Jahan, a mother of two, has not made any public statements since Sunday, a day after she was felicitated at the state BJP Mahila Morcha’s office in Howrah district.

She took up the party’s flag at the event, a ritual seen as common when joining a party.

Later, she told journalists, “I joined the party because I liked it. They supported me and women like me. Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) raised his voice for our cause. I hope the future generations will not have to suffer what we had to.”

The BJP’s cagey approach on Jahan’s induction comes from experience of a winning moment turning into an embarrassment within days last year.

Read | Triple talaq verdict: Crusader Ishrat Jahan faces threats, seeks help from Mamata Banerjee

A tribal couple hosted BJP president Amit Shah at their house in April 2017 in Naxalbari and joined the party amid much media attention. Within days, the couple switched to the ruling Trinamool Congress.

Incidentally, Trinamool Congress reached out to Jahan after reports of her joining the BJP surfaced, said a source aware of the development. Officially, the Trinamool has not reacted to Jahan heading the BJP’s way.

BJP leaders hope to formally induct Jahan, one of the five petitioners in the triple talaq case, at an event in Kolkata shortly. Her husband had divorced her over the phone from Dubai in 2014 by uttering ‘talaq’ thrice.

Jahan will come in handy for the BJP’s campaign in Uluberia, where nearly half the voters are Muslims. Beginning 1980, CPI(M)’s Hannan Mollah won the seat eight successive times. In the last two elections, Trinamool Congress’s Sultan Ahmed was the winner from the seat.

The CPI(M) reacted cautiously to BJP getting Jahan on board.

“We have nothing to say about someone’s choice of political party,” said Lok Sabha MP and CPI(M) politburo member Md Salim. “However, the plan to use her during campaign in Uluberia bypoll makes it evident that Mukul Roy is active in BJP. It’s an old Trinamool tactic in BJP’s new bottle,” he added.

Former Trinamool leader Roy joined the BJP in November last year.

A trusted aide-turned-critic of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Roy resigned from party on September 25 – two weeks after the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate questioned him in the Narada sting case.

Also read | Bengal’s triple talaq crusader Ishrat Jahan’s children go missing, she alleges kidnap by ex-husband

First Published: Jan 01, 2018 10:13 IST