Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for coining the term “love jihad” to divide the nation and create communal discord. He said there is no jihad in love while citing the term the Hindu right uses to describe marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women.
“Love jihad is a word manufactured by the BJP to divide the nation and disturb communal harmony. Marriage is a matter of personal liberty, bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional and it will not stand in any court of law. Jihad has no place in love,” Gehlot tweeted.
Gehlot’s remarks came two days after Madhya Pradesh announced it will enact a law to regulate interfaith marriages with a provision of five years in jail for forcible conversion. Other BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have also said they will legislate to regulate inter-faith marriages.
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Gehlot is the first senior Congress leader to speak out on the issue. He criticised the BJP for creating an environment, where consenting adults would be at the mercy of state power for marriage.
“Marriage is a personal decision and they are putting curbs on it, which is like snatching away personal liberty,” he said. “It seems a ploy to disrupt communal harmony, fuel social conflict & disregard constitutional provisions like the state not discriminating against citizens on any ground.”
Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat reacted to Gehlot’s tweets saying will deceit after religious conversions and changing of names not be called “love jihad”.
“Dear Ashok ji, Love Jihad is a trap that has thousands of young women believing the marriage is a personal affair, where later it turns out it isn’t. Also, if it is a matter of personal liberty, then why are the women not free to keep their maiden name or religion?” Shekhawat asked. “Ashok ji, Since Congress wants to support this act of deceit under the garb of personal liberty, isn’t it becomes a blatant display of its communal agenda… The BJP has believed in Sabka Vikas hence will ensure our women folk are not subject to injustice of any kind.”
BJP MLA and former education minister Vasudev Devnani also asked Gehlot to bring law in state, like Madhya Pradesh, stating that ‘love jihad’ needs to be stopped. “The CM holds the home department and the matter is of serious concern. A strong law should be made against love jihad,” he said.
Political analyst Narayan Bareth said an atmosphere has been created wherein it is believed that such laws would be brought for targeting a specific community. He added it is aimed at polarisation. “Gehlot, being a prominent leader of Congress, would have understood the need to speak on the issue as it was getting traction and cannot be left unaddressed. His comments come at the time when the Congress leadership is busy handling infighting after the debacle in Bihar and show Gehlot’s growing political stature.”
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