Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said dialogue, and not interference, is the way forward on the triple talaq bill. He said many Muslim women have signed memorandums against an ordinance the Centre brought last year making the practice of triple talaq a criminal offence.

The Centre had introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, in the Lok Sabha last week, where it was passed on December 27. However, the bill failed to clear the Rajya Sabha hurdle.

“This has always been the stand of our party [support for dialogue], and this is my suggestion with regard to how we should approach the sensitive matter,” the Janata Dal (United) chief, whose party is in an alliance with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said in Patna.

“Triple talaq has been a tradition in a particular community,” he said, addressing an audience at a Lok Samvad programme. “Of course, women have been adversely affected and hence a need was felt to do something about it. But if there is a defect in the system those part of it should be helped and encouraged to get rid of the same.” Kumar claimed that people take offence when something is imposed on them without their consent.

Rajya Sabha MP Bashistha Narain Singh, a Janata Dal (United) leader, said on January 3 that the party will vote against the proposed legislation in its current form. “We feel the way this bill is being rushed, it was avoidable and we feel more consultation should have taken place,” he said.

Kumar also said that the Janata Dal (United) wants the Ram temple matter to be decided by the court. He also dismissed claims that his alliance with BJP has led him to go soft on Hindutva organisations in Bihar. The chief minister claimed that in the past 13 years, curfew has been imposed only once to maintain law and order.

Hindutva organisations and parties like the Shiv Sena have been urging the Centre to bring in an ordinance to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an interview last week that the government will wait until the Supreme Court’s judicial process regarding the dispute over Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya is complete before moving forward in the matter.