Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) [India] : The concept of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) has been a topic of discussion for the past four years, and it has once again come into focus following the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks ahead of the elections in Madhya Pradesh.
The Opposition reacted by calling it a ” vote bank” politics while All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi and asked PM whether the government is considering ‘stripping the country of its pluralism and diversity?’ “India’s PM considers India’s diversity & its pluralism a problem. So, he says such things… Maybe India’s Prime Minister doesn’t understand Article 29. Will you strip the country of its pluralism & diversity in the name of UCC?, Owaisi said.
PM Modi said that the country cannot run on two laws and that Uniform Civil Code was part of the Constitution.
“Today people are being instigated in the name of UCC. How can the country run on two (laws)? The Constitution also talks of equal rights…Supreme Court has also asked to implement UCC. These (Opposition) people are playing vote bank politics,” he said.
Referring to the failure of succeeding governments to “secure” the UCC for its citizens despite the codification of the Hindu law in 1956, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court in 2019 had told the state to “endeavour” and bring the common code. The court had said that “despite the exhortations of this court in the case of Shah Bano in 1985, the government has done nothing to bring the Uniform Civil Code”.
PM’s statement triggered a nationwide debate as several opposition leaders have accused PM Modi of raising the UCC issue for political gains ahead of the upcoming elections.
Congress leaders accused PM Modi of using the UCC issue as a diversion tactics from real problems like inflation, unemployment and the situation in Manipur.
Another Congress leader Venugopal asserted that PM Modi rarely addresses incidents like the violence in Manipur and urged him to address concerns regarding poverty, inflation, and unemployment before focusing on other matters.
“He (PM) should first answer about poverty, price rise and unemployment in the country. He never speaks on the Manipur issue where the whole state is burning. Manipur is burning for the last 60 days. He did not speak a word about it nor did he appeal for peace. He is just distracting people from all these issues. We’re not going to fall for that,” KC Venugopal said.
With PM Modi’s emphatic endorsement, an emergency meeting has been called by an All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). AIMPLB chief Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, Maulana Arshad Madni and Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali are attending the meeting.
“It seems PM Modi could not understand Obama’s advice properly. Modi ji tell me, will you end the “Hindu Undivided Family” (HUF)? Because of this, the country is suffering a loss of Rs 3064 crores every year,” said Asaduddin Owaisi.
He further alleged that when the Prime Minister speaks of UCC, he is referring to ‘Hindu Civil Code’.
“When he speaks of UCC, he is speaking of ‘Hindu Civil Code. Now they will treat all Islamic practices as illegal and will protect all Hindu practices under the law. I challenge him – can he abolish Hindu Undivided Family? Go and tell the Sikhs in Punjab about UCC, see what will be the reaction there…”, he added
Meanwhile, Congress leader and Executive member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Arif Masood also hit out at PM Modi and said that the PM should remember that he has taken oath on the Constitution drafted by Dr BR Ambedkar adding that all sections of the country have faith in that Constitution and they will not allow to change it.
Arif Masood said,” PM should remember that he took on the Constitution drafted by Dr BR Ambedkar. All sections of the country have faith in Constitution and will not allow it to change. They also made a law on Triple Talaq. What difference did it make? They talked about giving relief to women under this law. What relief women got from this law?”
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, “As far as Uniform Civil Code is concerned, Prime Minister Nehru said “desirable thing to have UCC” but we have to take everyone along. You can not forget any society in any country.”
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader TKS Elangovan also lashed out at PM Modi on UCC and suggested first implementing it in the Hindu religion.
“Uniform Civil Code should be first introduced in the Hindu religion. Every person including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be allowed to perform pooja in any temple in the country,” Elangovan said.
“We don’t want UCC only because the Constitution has given protection to every religion,” he said.
Moreover, Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi called for all political parties and stakeholders to be involved in discussion.
“All political parties and stakeholders should be engaged on the issue of the Uniform Civil Code. Only BJP does vote bank politics,” JD(U) leader said.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel pointed a very significant aspect to be looked into when there are talks of implementing UCC i.e. what will be the impact of its implementation on tribal culture and traditions?
During a media interaction in Raipur on Tuesday, the Chief Minister questioned why the focus is solely on Hindu-Muslim dynamics and urged for consideration of the tribal population in Chhattisgarh.
The CM said “Why do you (referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi) think only about Hindu-Muslim? We have a tribal population in Chhattisgarh, they have rules as per their tradition. What will happen to the culture and tradition of tribal people if UCC is implemented?”
There are many castes and they have different traditions, which got recognition in the Constitution as well, we have to consider all those things, pointed out CM Baghel.
Henceforth Minister of State (MOS) for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan backed PM Modi’sstance on uniform law in the country and asserted that the PM specifically said the Constitution stipulates it.
MoS Muraleedharan said, “He (PM Modi) specifically said that the Constitution stipulates it and the courts are in a way asking that it (Uniform Civil Code) should be implemented.”
After flagging off five Vande Bharat Express trains on Tuesday morning, PM Modi addressed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) booth workers in Bhopal.
It is noteworthy that Part 4, Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, corresponds with Directive Principles of State Policy, making it mandatory for the State to provide its citizens with a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.
The Uttarakhand government on May 27 last year announced its decision to implement the Uniform Civil Code in the state.
The State government constituted the five-member committee led by Desai, to prepare a draft proposal for implementation of the UCC, broadly relating to the personal laws of citizens which apply to all regardless of their religion, gender or sexual orientation.
The panel also includes Justice Permod Kohli (retired), social activist Manu Gaur, former Chief Secretary Shatrughan Singh and Vice Chancellor of Doon University Surekha Dangwal.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has earlier said that the committee will submit its report by June 30 this year.
Notably, in BJP’s 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto, the party promised the implementation of UCC if it came to power.
Earlier on June 30, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma underlined the need for the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code in the state and said that the introduction of the legislation is necessary to give justice to all Muslim women.
“Everybody wants UCC. No Muslim woman wants her husband to bring home 3 other wives. Ask any Muslim woman. UCC is not my issue, it is an issue for all Muslim women. If they are to be given justice, after the scrapping of Triple Talaq, UCC will have to be brought,” Sarma said.
The Uniform Civil Code is a proposal in India to formulate and implement personal laws of citizens which apply to all citizens equally regardless of their religion, sex, gender and sexual orientation. Currently, the personal laws of various communities are governed by their religious scriptures.
“Will a family function if there are two different sets of rules for people? Then how will a country run? Our Constitution too guarantees equal rights to all people,” PM Modi said in Bhopal today while addressing party workers under the BJP’s “Mera Booth Sabse Majboot” campaign.
The Prime Minister further said that people are being instigated in the name of the Uniform Civil Code.
“The Muslim brothers and sisters of India have to understand which political parties are taking political advantage of them by provoking them. We are seeing that work is being done to incite such people in the name of UCC,” he further said.
He said that appeasement politics had left many people behind, including the Pasmanda Muslims.
“Pasmanda Muslims have become a victim of politics. Some people are using the politics of appeasement to break the country. The BJP cadre should go and explain this to the Muslims and educate them so that they do not fall victim to such politics”, PM Modi said.
“If they were really supportive of Muslims the Muslim brothers would not be poor or deprived…Supreme Court has also asked for the implementation of the UCC. But these people are hungry only for vote bank,” Modi said accusing the Opposition in the country of employing vote-bank politics of appeasement.