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Uttarakhand BJP leader cancels wedding of daughter to Muslim man, cites ‘public feelings’


A Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader called off his daughter’s marriage to a Muslim man after an image of the wedding card was shared online and went viral, sparking a “controversy”. BJP leader Yashpal Benam took the step on Saturday, citing ‘mutual agreement’ with the groom’s family at Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand.

The wedding of the BJP leader’s daughter was set to take place on May 28.

The viral wedding invitation received a lot of attention on social media, where supporters and opponents of the BJP and its ideologies pelted and criticized BJP leader Benam.

“The BJP-ruled states make films like ‘The Kerala Story’ tax-free while here the daughter of a BJP leader marries a Muslim man. These are BJP double standards and party workers will be demoralized,” said one Facebook user.

Hindutva hardliners were critical of the former MLA and the saffron party claiming “double standards”, others called the marriage an attempt at “Love Jihad” and compared it to the recently released controversial film The Kerala Stories.

“As a public representative, I did not want my daughter’s marriage to take place under the protection of the police and administration. I respect public feelings,” the BJP leader told media on Saturday.

“My daughter was going to get married to a Muslim youth. With the children’s happiness and future in mind, both families had decided to get them married, for which the tickets were also printed and shared. But after the wedding invitation card went viral on social media, a lot of things came up that objected to the wedding,” he said.

“After the controversy erupted, both families decided by mutual consent not to perform the marriage rituals for the time being,” the BJP leader added.

However, he said that the decision regarding his daughter’s marriage to the same man would be made jointly with the family, well-wishers and the groom’s side.

Benam is the president of the Pauri Municipal Corporation. He was previously in Congress and won as an independent from the Pauri Assembly constituency in 2007.

While claims of polarization and its resulting manifestation in society are denied by authoritarian figures unless it is “fictionalized” in films blaming one religion, this incident may be a testament to the dichotomy in contemporary society.

(With input from the agency)

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.