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Will Congress lose its traditional vote bank by backing triple talaq bill?

Not opposing the triple talaq bill may end a relationship that the Congress has had with the Indian electorate for almost 50 years.

The triple talaq bill was tabled and passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, which criminalizes the act of divorcing Muslim women by saying the word ‘talaq’ three times. As per the provisions of the bill, any Muslim husband violating the bill will be charged with a non-bailable offense and suffer imprisonment for three years.

The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha and will now go to the Rajya Sabha. The BJP called it a historic day and congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for introducing such a bill. While some applauded the bill, and some criticised it. Congress who holds the image of a minority appeasing party, also approved the bill, though demanding a few reconsiderations. According to the opinions of the political experts, Congress backing the triple talaq bill will result in the party losing its almost 50 years old relationship with the Indian electorate.

For years taking the Hindu votes for granted and going behind appeasing the minorities, it seems like the Congress with the new President Rahul Gandhi heading the party is set to divorce the minority appeasement policy and engage with the majority. During the Gujarat elections also it was clearly seen that unlike always the Muslims were kept out of the campaigning and Rahul Gandhi was seen visiting a number of temples trying to clean the anti-Hindutva image of the Congress party.

It was the very same Congress party back when it overturned the Shah Bano case verdict to appease the minority, which had literally changed the way political equations functioned in India, and as today the politics of India has turned out to be. It was after the Shah Bano case that the Ram Mandir issue was triggered and with the demolition of Babri Masjid, BJP played the Hindutva trump card and came into the limelight. And now the Congress supporting the Triple talaq without amendments, even when it has certain flaws—is an attempt to break away from the image of being a pro-minority party.

As it was seen during the Gujarat elections when there were only talks that Rahul Gandhi will be promoted as the Party President, He had many times indicated that he will make changes in the party policies and the image that has been portrayed in front of the people for so long will also change. And so it has been after his promotions, walking on the footpaths of the BJP, it seems like Congress has also now adopted the Hindutva card. This could be seen clearly when the Congress did not raise a debate over the bill in the Lok Sabha and this is a part of the makeover it has been attempting for the past few months, according to the political experts.

After the humiliation it suffered during the 2014 defeat, the party has almost come on the brink of being extinguished from the political equations of India. In such situation, fighting for its survival the party realised that if it continues to run behind the minority votes it will die in the ICU on the ventilator and hence decided to divert towards the majority. Also, the Congress realised it had gained nothing from its pro-minority tag. In states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, other parties had become the minority messiahs, with the Congress being sent to the back foot almost by everyone.

The party’s attempt of a makeover during the Gujarat elections, by Rahul Gandhi visiting the temples, wearing tilak on the forehead and avoiding controversial issues like the talk about Godhra and 2002 riots or publicly display its tilt towards Muslim voters and issues related to them displayed its results in the report card with the  improved performance of the party. So if nothing else, the party is sure of one thing that its makeover will benefit the Congress and it going on the right path by following the Hindutva trend and probably that is the major reason it did not oppose the triple talaq bill.

However, what fruits this new makeover and the Hindutva card will bear to the Congress will be more clearer in the assembly elections in the states next year and in the Lok Sabha elections due in 2019.

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