Chennai: "Religion is thicker than politics." The truism of this rammed home into the AIADMK in the aftermath of the debate in Lok Sabha on the Tripe Talaq Bill two days ago.

The AIADMK, which is not exactly known for sticking to one political ideology, had been hemming and hawing on the Triple Talaq Bill. 

All sections fighting for women's emancipation from regressive patriarchal practices are for the Bill brought (by the NDA government) to abolish the triple talaq practice in the Muslim community. But both the prominent Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu, i.e. the AIADMK and the DMK, in a bid to cultivate the conservative Muslim vote base, are opposing the Bill.

The DMK has no presence in the Lok Sabha and hence nothing was heard from it during the debate.

The AIADMK, on the other hand, fielded its MP Anwar Raja to speak on the issue. The party's official position is to oppose it, but not vehemently probably because it is hoping for an alliance with the BJP.

Raja in his speech, which was initially in English, stuck to the party line and avoided any controversial remarks. However, towards the end, Raja who is also an MP from the Muslims-dominated Ramanathapuram constituency switched over to Tamil and slipped into an extempore speech without any announcement. 

And what followed was a rabid religious speech, which portrayed Raja as a fanatic Muslim rather than an AIADMK member. 

The AIADMK is opposed to the jail term and offering one-time settlement as envisaged in the Bill. Though Raja was asked to focus on this in his speech, he added plenty of other things of his own.

Also, as he raised the tempo of his speech, his fellow AIADMK MPs were not sure what was happening. But luckily Raja ended the speech in about 10 minutes, following which the party MPs quickly staged their planned walkout.

"It was a surprise turn of events.  What he said towards the end was not part of the speech that he was supposed to make," a top-level AIADMK leader said. "He went beyond his brief. Because of which we had to do some trouble-shooting," he added.

The speech, towards the end, became so bigoted that a red-faced Edappadi Palaniswami, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, had to quickly call the party's floor leader in Lok Sabha P Venugopal and asked him to convey to media that whatever Raja said was his personal opinion and do not reflect the party's stand. 

"But his speech truly reflects the Muslim community leaders' plan to balk at any move to reform the antiquated personal religious laws," says another AIADMK leader. "It is worrying that for these leaders their religion comes ahead of the party that made them MPs in the first place,” he added. 
Raja, who generally has a low profile, is, however, no stranger to controversies. Earlier, this year his son Naser Ali had been booked for cheating a woman in Chennai of Rs 50 lakh. He reportedly also had an affair with her after promising to marry her. She filed a police complaint after she came to know that Ali was all set to marry another woman.