Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's marital life and his estranged wife Jashodaben once again took centre stage - this time in Urdu press and social media, as the debate on reform in the Muslim personal law, especially a ban on concurrent talaq and polygamy, heated up citing women's rights and gender equality.
The first to launch salvo against Prime Minister Modi and his marital life was the firebrand Muslim Personal Law Board General Secretary Mohammad Wali Rahmani. In a no-holds-barred attack on the prime minister on Thursday, Rahmani while addressing a press conference with other Muslim leaders in New Delhi, raked up the issue saying Modi should first keep his own house in order before worrying for Muslim women.
"There are people who are talking of women's rights. They should first keep their own house in order", Mohammad Wali Rahmani, former Deputy Speaker Bihar assembly, said.
As soon as Rahman's speech went viral on the internet, a huge number of posts with similar comments started flooding the social networking sites and the Urdu press. One article which singled out is written by Shakeel Rasheed and is published in today's Mumbai Urdu News.
"Jashodaben - Prime Minister Modi's estranged wife, is best example to describe the pain and agony of a woman who has been deserted by her husband", Shakeel Rasheed wrote in his weekly column titled 'Triple Talaq, Jashodaben and Modi'.
"Modi married her in 1968 but disclosed it only in 2014 during the Lok Sabha polls. He took 'sanyaas' later on, leaving Jashodaben at the mercy of others and without a happy family life. What kind of explanation one can make about prime minister Modi's behavior vis-à-vis his wife?" he asked.
Former Union Minister and senior RJD leader Ali Ashraf Fatmi also referred Jashodaben while addressing Muslim clerics' summit at India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi on Saturday.
"Lawyers are present here in this program. I will request them to file a case on behalf of a "Gujarati victim woman" and fight her battle for justice", he said advising Prime Minister Modi to resolve the issue in his family life before worrying for the rights of Muslim women.
The Modi government and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) are trading charges against each other even since the Law Ministry filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court calling for reforms in the Muslim personal law and a ban on triple talaq and polygamy.
In its affidavit in Supreme Court on October 7, the Modi government argued that polygamy and Triple Talaq should be done away with, and said that such practices "cannot be regarded as essential or integral part of the religion".
On the other hand, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is of the view that the government or the court have no right to interfere in their personal laws as per the constitution.
While there is total consensus over polygamy among Muslims, Muslim scholars and jurists are divided over the validity of concurrent talaq. A thorough study into the subject reveals that incident of concurrent talaq did take place during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) but he treated them as one.
Caliph Omar for the first time issued a decree saying that concurrent talaq will be considered as full and final.