Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s perceived double standard on the triple talaq matter and the Sabarimala temple issue, as he expressed them in an interview to ANI on Tuesday, drew criticism on social media. Modi said that he supports the triple talaq ordinance criminalising the Islamic practice of instant divorce because it runs contrary to the idea of gender quality. But he said that he opposed women of menstrual age from entering the Ayyappa temple in Kerala’s Sabarimala because it is a matter of tradition.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party government promulgated the ordinance criminalising triple talaq in September and introduced a bill in Parliament last week with the same objective. The same month, the Supreme Court lifted the traditional ban on women between the ages of 10 and 50 from entering the Sabarimala shrine.
“Most Islamic countries have banned triple talaq,” Modi said. “It is not a matter of religion or faith. Even Pakistan has banned triple talaq.” Meanwhile, he justified his position on the Sabarimala temple debate, citing the dissenting view of Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman on the five-judge Supreme Court panel that allowed the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 to the Sabarimala temple. “She [Indu Malhotra] has made the suggestions being a woman,” Modi said. “There is no need to link the view to any political party.”
On Wednesday, two women in their 40s entered the Sabarimala temple and offered prayers. Despite the Supreme Court ruling in September, protestors had prevented women from entering the temple up until now.
Modi’s comments were criticised by many prominent figures on Twitter, including All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi and National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Many said that if Muslim men could be jailed for deserting their wives, Hindu men leaving their wives should face similar punishment.