Of Triple Talaq Politics...

LETS get provocative. BJP is the upholder of secularism. And judiciary follows politics closely. Or what else would you make of the facts connected with Tuesday's instant triple talaq verdict? Its yet another instance of BJP reading the mood of the nation, as Congress whirls in the vortex of its appeasement politics.

Its chronicled history of how Rajiv Gandhi government gave in to the ulema in overturning the Shah Bano verdict through a legislation. Arif Mohamed Khan is still alive to tell the tale. While on the one hand it left the judiciary confused on personal laws and the larger secularism question, on the other it fueled a counter right wing narrative of majority victimhood, scripting BJP's rise through the decade of 90s. Post Shah Bano, the Supreme Court touched questions of triple talaq and personal laws in case after case with a barge pole under Congress, giving most progressive interpretations of constitution on personal laws only during intervening periods of BJP rule.

Thus it is no coincidence that in 1995 Sarla Mudgal case Supreme Court rued lack of climate to even debate the uniform civil code. Two years later in the Ahmedabad Women's Action Group petition, the apex court still thought issues like talaq and polygamy remained the domain of the legislature. Both verdicts quoted by AIMPLB lawyers were under Congress and United Front governments.

Though the laissez faire on personal laws continued, SC demurred a bit in the 2001 Daniel Latifi case, acknowledging some connect between dignity of muslim women and fundamental right to life under Article 21. Lordships showed a little more courage in Javed vs. State of Haryana in 2003, terming polygamy as bad as Sati. Guess what both during BJP led NDA government!

So it comes as no surprise that instant triple talaq stands abolished in the country under a regime headed by Narendra Modi. Since October last, the Prime Minister has spoken with conviction on at least six occasions, taking cudgels on behalf of embattled muslim women. The BJP succeeded in tying the issue with the secularism debate. PM tweeted, and party chief Amit Shah addressed a press conference. The party would have no qualms admitting they see a constituency in half of the muslim population of the country. Congress on the other hand looked adrift, wooden, and even dishonest. Having so easily scripted arguably the most progressive Hindu reform after the Code Bills by giving Hindu women succession rights in parental property in 2005, Congress was again found playing footsie with ulema what with two of its leaders, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khursheed, representing the most regressive AIMPLB against Shaira Bano. No wonder which party comes out as more in command, and in tune with the mood of the nation.

Why Hafiz Saed Joining Politics Is A Good Bet...

SOUTH block mandarins have expressed concern at Mumbai terror attack mastermind, and UN designated terrorist Hafiz Saed joining politics. A Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson termed it an attempt by Saed to cover his blood stained hands with ballot ink. “After killing with bullets, he is trying to hide behind ballot” is how MEA saw it. But is it that detrimental or disturbing a development? How has recent Pakistani experience been?

A decade and a half ago, another rabid maulana – Fazl-ur-Rahman – burst onto Pakistani political scene. Leading the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a conglomeration of Islamic parties, Rahman gave a real scare to mainstream parties and became the principal opposition in the 2002 general elections. And then democracy took over. In the last election in 2013, Rahman's party commanded a mere 3.2 per cent of popular vote, and has only 15 members in Pakistan's National Assembly. In between he has aligned with a spectrum as broad in its ideological sweep as left of centre PPP, and right of centre PML(N). Similarly, General Musharraf of Kargil fame became amenable to dialogue with India only after relinquishing uniform. Compulsions of even a stagemanaged election impacted Chief Executive Musharraf to a level that it was under him that we came close to resolving Siachen.

Global experience too suggests that exercise of democracy does wonders to the creed of violence. The first time Hamas openly condemned Holocaust was in 2008, a year after it came to power in Gaza strip. Its ideological parent Muslim Brotherhood distanced itself from Al Qaeda and ISIS only after coming to power through a democratic election post Arab spring. Ulster Unionist David Trimble led Orange marches through Catholic neighoburhoods in 1995. One election changed him so much that he went in for talks with rival Sinn Fein, picked up a Peace Nobel for the Good Friday Accord, and by 2005 was annoying the orange order by participating in the funeral of a Catholic youth killed in an IRA bombing.

Latest ouster of Nawaz Sharif means that the Hydra-headed Pakistani state, with its non-state actors thrown in, is not going to become a place worth talking to anytime soon. Between the strenthened military and the nutheads of Saed kinds, India has little leverage left with the recalcitrant neighbour. So here is the deal. Welcome Saed into politics and let democracy, howsoever shallow in Pakistan, assimilate the terrorist. The elixir of democracy has its ways of making strange bedfellows. The aphrodisiac of power softens, not harden, the ideological edges.

A child of Zia ul Haq like Sharif, Saed has openly batted for Punjabi as Pakistan's national language and not Urdu. His party – Milli Muslim League - has pledged to implement the ideology of Pakistan in accordance with the 1973 Constitution, and the vision of the Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal. The Consitution was the product of an avowed socialist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Jinnah in his August 11, 1947, speech wanted a Pakistan where Hindus won't be Hindus, Muslims won't be Muslims. Iqbal wrote “Hai Ram Ke Naam Pe Hindostan Ko Naaz,' and more famously “Saare Jahan Se Accha Hindostan Hamara.” And you thought a terrorist can't be confused. Well, strains of falling between two democratic stools are already showing up. If the Indian state is sharp, we should only wish him Allah-speed!