KOZHIKODE: The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is in a firefighting mode. The reason: brewing resentment over the absence of IUML national general secretary P K Kunhalikutty during the crucial voting in Parliament on a revised bill that makes Triple Talaq or instant divorce among Muslims a punishable offence.
Kunhalikutty’s decision to skip Parliament on Thursday to attend the wedding of an industrialist not only put the party in a spot, but also led to speculation of a lack of coordination between him and the only other party MP E T Mohammad Basheer.
Though the initial decision of the party’s national leadership was to boycott the voting, Basheer went ahead and voted against the bill, surprising many within the party. Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the state and IUML leader M K Muneer was left to firefight on the issue while addressing a press conference here on Friday.
Contending that the IUML was a ‘small party’ with just two MPs, Muneer argued that the presence of Kunhalikutty would not have made much of a difference as both MPs would not have got a chance to speak on the matter.
Besides, Basheer had successfully driven home the party’s opposition towards criminalising Triple Talaq in Parliament, he added.
“The party’s central leadership had initially taken a decision to boycott the voting. However, if it was later decided on the floor of the House to vote against the bill, then it is a judicious decision as doing so is also a form of expressing dissent,” Muneer said when asked about the deviation in stance. Asked why such a tall leader like Kunhalikutty chose to be absent on such a crucial voting day, Muneer said it is for Kunhalikutty himself to clarify.
Flays Women’s Wall
Muneer repeated his earlier stance that the proposed Women’s Wall on January 1 is a communal wall which will only serve to polarise society.
“Women are being used as a tool for the Women’s Wall. Even though the organisers claim the wall is to uphold women’s equality, it will only amount to declaring women as slaves who are bound to obey the diktats of men,” Muneer said.
He said various government departments were threatening women employees that their lives would be made miserable if they do not cooperate with the Women’s Wall. He cited an instance of a Kudumbashree officer in Malappuram threatening women members about serious consequences if they do not become part of the Women’s Wall.
Voting decision taken jointly: Kunhalikutty
In a statement from Abu Dhabi, P K Kunhalikutty MP said he could not attend Parliament on Thursday as he was travelling abroad. The decision to vote against the Triple Talaq Bill was taken after consultation between him and the other MP of the party E T Mohammad Basheer.
“While some Opposition parties such as the Congress wanted to boycott the voting after discussion, other parties suddenly decided to participate in the voting. Basheer and I jointly decided that it was better to vote against the Bill to record the party’s protest,” he said. He said propaganda against him by vested interests on the matter was not factually true.