Union minister Arun Jaitley on Friday criticised the Congress for promising to scrap the bill banning instant triple talaq if it comes to power.

In a Facebook post, Jaitley cited a recent news report about an instance of nikah halala in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. A Muslim woman who was married in 2009 was twice divorced through triple talaq, in 2011 and 2017. The woman was reportedly forced to perform nikah halala, first with her father-in-law and then with her brother-in-law, who allegedly raped her.

The practice of “nikah halala” bars a man from remarrying his former wife unless she has married another man, consummated that marriage and divorced him. The woman is also expected to observe a separation period called “iddat” before she reconciles with her first husband.

Jaitley cited another instance from September 2018, when a woman in Uttar Pradesh said she was forced to perform nikah halala and marry her father-in-law.

“That in the 21st century there could be such gross violation of the dignity of women in the world’s largest democracy should make every head hang in shame,” Jaitley said.

Jaitley said “human conscience should have been repelled” while reading such news reports, instead Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his coterie have promised to withdraw the bill pending in the Rajya Sabha.

At the Congress party’s National Minorities Conference on Thursday, Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev had said the party would do away with the triple talaq bill if voted to power.

Jaitley said former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had committed a “monumental mistake” by overturning the Shah Bano judgement of the Supreme Court which had guaranteed alimony to Muslim women.

“He [Rajiv Gandhi] allowed deserted women to be driven to poverty and destitution,” Jaitley said. “Thirty-two years later his son has taken another retrograde step to drive them not merely into destitution but also to live a life which is an antithesis of human existence...Votes are important, so is fairness. Political opportunists only look at the next day’s headlines. Nation-builders look at the next century.

Referring to the Congress’s promise to withdraw the bill, Jaitley said history had repeated itself with a “mindset of cruelty”.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra on Thursday accused the Congress of following a policy of appeasement after the Opposition party declared it will scrap the law.