Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday said “love jihad” is a term “manufactured” by the BJP to disturb communal harmony, provoking a sharp reaction from Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
In a tweet, Gehlot said marriage is a matter of personal liberty and bringing a law to curb it is unconstitutional.
Hitting back, Shekhawat asked if marriage is a matter of personal liberty “why are the women not free to use their maiden name or religion”.
BJP leaders use the term “love jihad” while alleging that Hindu women face harassment and forced conversion in the name of love and marriage.
BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have said they are considering enactment of laws to curb such marriages.
But Gehlot said such law will not stand scrutiny in any court.
“Love jihad is a word manufactured by BJP to divide the nation and disturb communal harmony,” the Congress leader tweeted.
“Jihad has no place in love. They are creating an environment in the nation where consenting adults would be at the mercy of state power. Marriage is a personal decision and they are putting curbs on it, which is like snatching away personal liberty,” Gehlot said.
“It seems a ploy to disrupt communal harmony, fuel social conflict and disregard constitutional provisions like the state not discriminating against citizens on any ground,” he added.
Union Jal Shakti minister and prominent BJP leader from Rajasthan Gajendra Singh Shekhawat reacted strongly.
“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?” he asked.
“Why are families of girls too forced to accept the other religion? Isn’t religion a matter of personal liberty?” he tweeted. Shekhawat asked if supporting this in the guise of personal freedom was the “new communal agenda” of the Congress.
He charged that “manufacturing terms, riots and hatred is a Congress prerogative”.
The BJP, he said believed in “Sabka Vikas”, or universal development, and will ensure that womenfolk are “not subject to injustice of any kind”
BJP’s Rajasthan president Satish Poonia also targeted Gehlot, claiming that his statement reflected “petty vote bank politics”.
“It is hard to believe that the chief minister will get so rattled by the plight of the Congress nationwide. We all know that marriage in the tradition of India is a religious and socially recognised rite, and is not limited only to freedom of the individual,” he said.
“The manner in which our innocent girls face harassment under the Islamic terror agenda of love jihad is well known,” Poonia said.
“In such a situation, his statement definitely reflects a petty mentality and petty vote bank politics.” ( PTI )