‘Love Jihad’ a term created by BJP to divide nation: Gehlot
Gehlot stressed that “Jihad has no place in Love”, pointed out that marriage is a matter of personal liberty and asserted that laws to curb it “is completely unconstitutional & it will not stand in any court of law”.Updated: Nov 21, 2020, 06:25 IST
Love jihad is a word manufactured by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to divide the nation and disturb its communal harmony, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said on Friday, remarks that came in the backdrop of some BJP-ruled states signalling that they are considering laws to regulate interfaith marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men.
Gehlot stressed that “Jihad has no place in Love”, pointed out that marriage is a matter of personal liberty and asserted that laws to curb it “is completely unconstitutional & it will not stand in any court of law”.
“They (BJP) are creating an environment in the nation where consenting adults would be at the mercy of state power. Marriage is a personal decision & they are putting curbs on it, which is like snatching away personal liberty,” the senior Congress leader tweeted.
“It seems a ploy to disrupt communal harmony, fuel social conflict & disregard constitutional provisions like the state not discriminating against citizens on any ground,” he said in another tweet.
His remarks drew a sharp reaction by BJP leader and Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who said the BJP believes in development for all and alleged that hatred is the Congress’s “prerogative”.
“Dear Ashok ji, Love Jihad is a trap that has thousands of young women believing the marriage is a personal affair, where later it turns out it isn’t. Also, if it is a matter of personal liberty, then why are the women not free to keep their maiden name or religion?
“Why are families of girls too forced to accept the other religion? Isn’t religion a matter of personal liberty? Ashok ji, Since Congress wants to support this act of deceit under the garb of personal liberty, isn’t it becomes a blatant display of its communal agenda.
“Ashok ji, manufacturing terms, riots and hatred is a Congress prerogative. The BJP has believed in Sabka Vikas hence will ensure our women folk are not subject to injustice of any kind,” Shekhawat said in three tweets.
Jaipur-based political analyst Narayan Bareth said that the timing of Gehlot’s remarks shows his importance. “Gehlot, being a prominent leader of the Congress, would have understood the need to speak on the issue as it was getting traction and could not be left unaddressed. His comments, coming at a time when the Congress leadership is busy handling infighting after electoral debacle in Bihar, have shown Gehlot’s growing political stature,” Bareth said.
On Tuesday, the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government said a bill —with a provision of five years in jail for forced conversions for marriage — will be passed in the next session of the state assembly to check “love jihad”, which Hindu activists describe as an organised conspiracy of Muslim men to trick Hindu women into marriages and effect a demographic change.
Later on the same day, the Haryana government signalled its intention to constitute a committee of officials to study and draft a law to that effect. Earlier, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka — all ruled by the BJP — have also promised to bring legislation to end love jihad.
Despite the political mobilisation, experts say that the charges of love jihad are bogus and that adult men and women are free to convert under the constitutional right to freedom of religion. In February, the central government told Parliament that there was no definition of the term and no such cases were reported by agencies.