PM Modi’s Comments About Sabarimala and Triple Talaq Expose His Own Hypocrisy

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Jan 4, 2019

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Just one day after 5 million women in Kerala formed a human wall to protest gender inequality and those opposing the Supreme Court ruling allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an exclusive interview to ANI to make his stance on it crystal clear. And it’s a stance that reeks of hypocrisy.

While he welcomes the Triple Talaq Bill, which makes the Islamic law void and criminalizes any man who uses it to divorce his wife, PM Modi believes that the Sabarimala issue deserves to be treated in a different way. Muslim women need saving from their ‘oppressive’ religion, but when Hindu women are denied the right to pray in a temple, that is not oppression but tradition.

Applauding the bill, PM Modi said, “Triple Talaq Ordinance was brought after Supreme Court verdict. We have said in our BJP manifesto that a solution would be found to this issue under the Constitution.”

“Most Islamic countries have banned triple talaq. So, it is not a matter of religion or faith. Even in Pakistan, triple talaq is banned. So it is an issue of gender equality, matter of social justice. It is not an issue of faith. So, keep the two separate,” he said.

That PM Modi is upholding the top court’s verdict and recognizing that issues of gender equality must be prioritized over religious sentiment, is commendable. However, this separation of faith and gender equality somehow does not extend to the issue of Sabarimala. While on one hand, he upholds the SC’s judgement to grant women equal rights through the Triple Talaq bill, on the other, he blatantly ignores their landmark ruling against the ban on women entering the temple.

Responding to a question about the issue, the PM said, “India is of one opinion that everyone should get justice. There are some temples, which have their own traditions, where men can’t go. And men don’t go… In this, Sabarimala, a woman judge in the Supreme Court has made certain observations. It needs to be read minutely. There is no need to attribute those to any political party. As a woman, she has made some suggestions. There should be a debate on that as well sometimes.”

PM Modi seems to conveniently ignore the majority of the SC, who made their view on the matter very clear, as well as brushing off the obvious political motivations underlying these issues. The convoluted logic of Sabarimala being an issue of tradition, not religion is one that is beyond most of us. The reason for the PM talking himself in circles, however, is pretty clear. Formed CM of J&K, Omar Abdullah puts it succinctly:

The next time PM Modi wants to pretend like he and the BJP actually care about gender equality, perhaps it would be wise not to contradict themselves in the next breath, at the very least.

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Written By Nadia Nooreyezdan

Nadia Nooreyezdan is The Swaddle’s culture editor. Since graduating from Columbia Journalism School, she spends her time thinking about aliens, cyborgs, and social justice sci-fi. She’s also working on a memoir about her family’s journey from Iran to India.

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