If voted to power, BJP to form panel on Uniform Civil Code in Uttarakhand: Dhami

The announcement by Pushkar Singh Dhami attracted severe criticism of the BJP, especially the timing of it, by Opposition parties

New Delhi: On the last day of election campaigning in Uttarakhand, the chief minister of the BJP-ruled Uttarakhand, where polling for Assembly elections is scheduled on February 14, announced on Saturday that if the BJP is re-elected to power in the hill state, the new government will constitute a committee to prepare a draft Uniform Civil Code (UCC) soon after it is sworn in. The announcement by Pushkar Singh Dhami attracted severe criticism of the BJP, especially the timing of it, by Opposition parties.

Uttarakhand is scheduled to vote on February 14 to elect its next Assembly.

"Soon after its swearing-in, the new BJP government will form a committee to prepare a draft of Uniform Civil Code in the state. This UCC will provide for the same laws regarding marriages, divorce, land-property and inheritance for all people, irrespective of their faith... This Uniform Civil Code will be a step towards realising the dreams of those who framed our Constitution and solidify the spirit of the Constitution. This will also be an impactful step towards Article 44 that provides for UCC for all citizens. This UCC will be for equal laws on subjects like marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance for people of all religions,” said the Uttarakhand CM.

Mr Dhami maintained that the UCC will “enhance social harmony, boost gender justice, strengthen women empowerment and help protect the extraordinary cultural-spiritual identity and environment of the state.”

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal blasted Mr Dhami and the BJP saying such a claim two days before Assembly elections shows that the BJP is losing in Uttarakhand. Mr Sibal also asked Mr Dhami not to “embarrass your party and yourself” with such announcements, and added that the CM needs “some legal advice”.

Reacting to Mr Dhami's announcement, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that the chief minister should “understand that ‘uniform’ doesn’t mean common”. “Babasaheb (Dr B R Ambedkar) had said that it should be voluntary and not mandatory. AIMIM believes in ‘unity in diversity’. What does diversity mean? It means one size won’t fit everyone. India has several cultures,” he said.

In Uttarakhand, the ruling BJP has been accusing the Opposition Congress of “communalizing” the election by promising a Muslim University to appease the minority community, an issue which Prime Minister Narendra Modi also referred to during his recent virtual rally to the state’s voters. Most opinion polls had predicted the BJP retaining power in the state, but with the Congress giving the ruling party a tough fight, it may improve upon its last poll tally significantly.

Hitting back at the Congress, BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted: “Uttarakhand CM announces BJP’s decision to implement Uniform Civil Code in Devbhoomi after elections. Uttarakhand will be the second such state after BJP ruled Goa to do so. On the one hand Harish Rawat promised Muslim University while the BJP speaks of equality and empowerment.”

Referring to the sub-judice hijab row, another BJP leader and party’s national secretary Y. Satya Kumar said, “The real difference between the secularism of Baba Saheb Ambedkar (followed by the BJP) and the secularism of Jinnah (followed by the Congress) cannot be more visible. While BJP announced Uniform Civil Code in Uttrakhand, Congress leaders want the entire country to wear hijab.”

Echoing the views of Mr Dhami that it is BJP’s “prime duty” to keep the “culture and heritage of 'Devbhoomi' intact,” the BJP's youth wing head and MP Tejaswi Surya said that the “need for Uniform Civil Code has been long felt to protect the diversity and unique culture of Uttarakhand”.

Although the Law Commission had concluded in 2018 that a UCC is neither desirable nor feasible, nor has any blueprint for a UCC been prepared, the BJP keeps bringing up the Uniform Civil Code .

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