Not on May 23, it was on July 30 that the opposition truly lost
New Delhi, July 31: There is an old saying, "United we stand, divided we fall", and that is exactly what happened on July 30 in the Rajya Sabha when the Triple Talaq Bill was passed despite the NDA not having numbers in the Upper House.
During PM Modi's first tenure as the Prime Minister, the government tried many times to get this contentious legislation passed, but was thwarted by the opposition unity in the Rajya Sabha. Now, in the span hardly a week, two bills which were fervourously opposed by the opposition parties - the RTI ammendment Bill and the Triple Talaq Bill- cleared the Upper House hurdle. This is a blow to the so called opposition unity in true sense.
There have been bills which were supported by some and opposed by some, and those getting passed in RS is okay. But when it came to bills like these which the opposition parties collectively opposed, the NDA could have been stopped as the ruling alliance has 107 which is far short of 121 needed in 242 member Rajya Sabha. Passing of the Triple Talaq Bill is decimation of the opposition unity the Upper House and may be it also means that they have given up the fight. This completely exposed the Opposition and the fabled talk of its unity.
At the time of voting, the lead Opposition party Congress saw its benches empty. At least five Congress MPs, including Vivek Tankha, Rajiv Bishwal, Mukud Medhi and Pratap Bajwa, were missing. Independent MP KTS Tulsi also didn't vote, even though he had moved amendments to the bill.
The ruling NDA has 107 members in the 242-member Rajya Sabha. The majority mark needed to get any legislation passed is 121 if all the members participate in the voting.
JD- U's 6 MPs and AIADMK 11 members walked out, lowering the majority mark. The NDA was also strengthened by absentees in the opposition ranks. Oscar Fernandes and four other Congress MPs as also NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel were absent. Two Samajwadi Party MPs, Ram Jethmalani of the RJD, two Trinamool Congress MPs and one member of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were also not present. Six members of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and two MPs of YSR-Congress were also absent.
The final numbers for the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill were 99 in favour of and 84 against it.
Supporting the bill were the BJP and its allies, except the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Like in the Lok Sabha, the JD(U) spoke against the bill in the Upper House as well and then walked out in protest.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also helped the government by not voting. Party MP Satish Chandra Mishra had opposed the bill at the time of discussion, but was missing at the time of voting - of the BSP's four MPs, three were not present.
Six Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MPs, five of the Samajwadi Party (SP)'s 12 MPs, two Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MPs and two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members also remained absent. One member each of the Trinamool Congress, IUML and Kerala Congress were also missing during voting.
All in all, over 30 missing parliamentarians helped the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government pass the bill.
Omar Abdullah lashed out at Mehbooba Mufti over the PDP MLAs and tweeted, "Mehbooba Mufti ji, you might want to check how your members voted on this bill before tweeting. I understand they abstained which helped the government with the numbers needed to pass the bill."
The same strategy had helped the government push through the contentious amendment to the Right To Information (RTI) Act last week despite lacking numbers in the Upper House.