Quoting hatred: Love Jihad and where political parties stand on the issue
Several BJP- states have begun pushing for laws to address ‘love jihad’.
“Let the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government enact a law against 'Love Jihad' and then the Maharashtra government will study it and think about it,” said Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut while speaking to reporters on Monday, as the opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Maharashtra government of overlooking the cases of love jihad in the state. Love jihad is a term extensively used in the country, to describe a conspiracy which allegedly seeks to convert Hindu women to Islam through marriage.
Last month, after an advertisement by Tanishq jewellery brand, that celebrated interfaith marriage, where a Muslim family was shown to organise a baby shower ceremony for its Hindu daughter-in-law, received an unexpected backlash. People trolled the advertisement calling it a promotion of love jihad. Since then, the term has been receiving even more political attention. Several BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana have begun pushing for laws to address ‘love jihad’, promoting a political campaign against Hindu women marrying Muslim men, calling it a setup for forceful conversions. “I warn those who conceal identity and play with our sisters’ respect. If you don’t mend your ways your ‘Ram naam satya’ journey will begin,” said UP Chief Minister Ajay Singh Bisht or Yogi Adityanath.
Lot of discussions are going on regarding 'Love Jihad'. I think it's a serious matter. West Bengal elections are coming up, a new topic should be brought to the fore. We believe, development is a major issue for election but 'Love Jihad' will be discussed: Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena pic.twitter.com/CpVkgbV2QQ— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2020
A few days ago, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra also announced that a bill will soon be introduced to the Madhya Pradesh State Assembly, which would include a cognizable and non-bailable offence of ‘love jihad’. “We will bring a legislation against 'love jihad' through Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Vidheyak in the coming session of the assembly. The bill will have provisions of rigorous imprisonment up to five years on forcible marriage, seduction and forced conversions,” Mishra had said.
The Haryana Home Minister had also announced earlier this month that the State Government would soon be forming a committee to draft law regarding love jihad. Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa also announced that the government will be taking “stern measures to end love jihad”.
While BJP-led states have aggressively been promoting the love jihad narrative, political leaders of other parties have been slamming BJP over its latest ‘project’. Recently, in a tweet, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that the word love jihad was “manufactured by BJP to divide the nation and disturb communal harmony.
Interestingly, the BJP does not seem to have sufficient data with reference to the alleged cases of love jihad in the country. While the curious case of a Kerala Hindu Woman who married a Muslim man had raged discussions around love jihad in the state, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy had stated in February this year, that ‘love jihad doesn’t exist in terms of the law.
While five BJP-ruled states are moving fast towards making laws pertaining to love jihad, despite the resurging cases of Coronavirus across the country, the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, has pointed out the interfaith marriages in the families of BJP leaders.
“Family members of several BJP leaders have also performed inter-religion marriages. I ask BJP leaders if these marriages come under the definition of ‘love jihad’?” Baghel questioned.
.@BJP4Karnataka is desperate to divert public attention from its failures. 'Love Jihad', 'Cow Slaughter' and similar issues are their only hope to win elections.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) November 21, 2020
Shiv Sena MP and Spokesperson Raut also pointed out that the laws might be part of BJP’s strategies in face of the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal. Teasing BJP’s newly-formed Bihar Government along with Janata Dal (United) - JD(U), Raut said on Monday, "But, when a law will be framed in Bihar, when Nitish Kumar ji will frame it, we will study that law in its entirety. After that we will think about it in Maharashtra.” It will be curious to see JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s stand on the issue, especially as the party and the leader have always promoted themselves as secular.
Congress leader and Mumbai's Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh, a couple of days ago, criticised the demand of the opposition leaders to bring in laws against love jihad in the state saying, To bring a law for love jihad is foolishness. In the Constitution, it is written that a citizen can stay anywhere, marry anyone and adopt any religion and while anything forcibly is done, then there is already a provision in the law to deal with it.”