Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya has kicked up a controversy with his remarks that triple talaq is being misused by men to satisfy their "lust".
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader's comments drew severe flak from several quarters including Muslim leaders, who demanded an unconditional apology from him.
"These 'talaq' have no basis.... if someone only for satisfying his lust keeps changing his wives and forces his own wife and children to beg on streets... no one will call this right," Maurya, who was in Basti to participate in a function at the house of a local BJP leader, told news persons on Friday night.
"The BJP stands with Muslim women who have been given talaq unreasonably and arbitrarily... we want to help such victims get respect," he said.
The remarks come at a time when the BJP-led central government is pushing for a ban on triple talaq with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urging Muslims not to view it from a political perspective. The PM also voiced confidence that "enlightened" members of the community will take the lead in eradicating the outdated practice.
Reacting to Maurya's comments, senior member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangimahli demanded an unconditional apology from the minister.
The AIMPLB has opposed any move to ban triple talaq, saying Muslims have the "constitutional" right to follow their personal law and it will not accept any interference in it.
President of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board Shaista Amber, who has been actively involved in the campaign against triple talaq, termed the minister's statement as "shameful".
"He (Maurya) should be sent to a mental asylum, as he has shattered the honour of the Muslims specially women," Amber said .
"We will also demand that our chief minister take action against such a minister who has insulted all women.... Human Rights Commission also needs to take note of it," she added.
The Centre has opposed the triple talaq practice in the Supreme Court citing the principles of gender justice and secularism enshrined in the Constitution.
Activists allege that the practice under which a Muslim man can give instant divorce to his wife by uttering the word 'talaq' thrice in one go has left lakhs of women destitute.