NDA allies oppose triple talaq bill but Oppn loses mojo

NDA allies oppose triple talaq bill but Oppn loses mojo

Two NDA allies and another two non-aligned but friendly parties, which together have 25 MPs, either walked out or refused to support BJP-led government's Triple Talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha. (PTI Photo)

Two NDA allies and another two non-aligned but friendly parties, which together have 25 MPs, either walked out or refused to support BJP-led government's Triple Talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday but the Opposition could not leverage on this as around two dozen of its lawmakers remained absent during the voting.

The tame end to its opposition to the bill came as they could manage only 84 votes on the motion to send the legislation to a Select Committee while the NDA got 100 in what is seen as a repeat of voting during the RTI (Amendment) Bill last week when the Opposition bloc could manage only 74 against NDA's 117.

With the government listing The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill for passage on Wednesday, similar scenes could repeat in the Upper House though the Opposition has said that it wants the legislation be sent to a Select Committee.

Opposition leaders refused to comment on the absentees but sources said the trend was worrying as they accused the BJP of threatening parties and leaders.

Sources said at least 24 MPs from the Opposition bloc were absent during voting and this included 6-7 out of 12 Samajwadi Party MPs, four BSP lawmakers and two out of four NCP members. Two PDP MPs were also said to be absent during voting though they had opposed the bill during the debate.

The absentees in the Opposition benches included senior NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, BSP floor leader Satish Mishra and Samajwadi Party Deputy Leader Surender Nagar. TDP (2 MPs), which had aligned with the Opposition after severing links with BJP-led NDA over the issue of special status for Andhra Pradesh, walked out in protest against the bill.

At least four Opposition MPs – one each from CPI(M) and RJD and two from SP – were absent due to health reasons.

While four out of 47 MPs from Congress were also not present, one of its lawmakers Sanjay Singh resigned from Rajya Sabha and an announcement was made by the Chair while the debate was going on in the afternoon.

Sources said the government side worked the phone lines for the triple talaq bill too like it did for the RTI (Amendment) Bill and managed the support of BJD. During the discussions on the amendment bill on RTI, it had managed the support of TRS and BJD, which had initially supported the Opposition motion to send the Bill to a Select Committee.

As per the strength of the House, the Opposition has the support of 110 MPs and the NDA 115. Non-aligned parties TRS, YSR Congress and BJD has a combined strength of 15 MPs.

Seven-member BJD, meanwhile, announced its support for the NDA on the bill though BJP allies 11-member AIADMK and six-member JD(U) walked out, bringing NDA votes to 105, if all were present. Six-member party TRS too walked out while one of the two YSR Congress MPs voted against the bill while the other was absent.

The BJP has managed to wean away four out of six TDP MPs and an INLD MP earlier during the session while it managed to make one each MPs of Congress and Samajwadi Party quit to join BJP.