India, as a liberal democracy, and a secular republic, as a major player on the world stage, as “Vishwa Guru”, as a beacon of hope and an exemplar of a nation, must implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has shown peerless courage in biting the bullet and setting aside politically-motivated apprehensions and electoral second guessing to take brave decisions. Irrespective of the consequences, some have been good, and some bad, but the intrepid leadership of Mr Modi can’t be doubted in taking tough decisions.
From a context of the history of last several decades, it is under Mr Modi that several contentious, long-term controversies have finally been settled — the Ram mandir in Ayodhya (through the judicial decision route), the setting aside of Article 370 (and 35A) on the reversing of the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, abolishing the triple talaq and passing of Parliamentary acts on the NRC and CAA, among others.
The only manifesto item pending from the BJP’s long-term list is the implementation of the UCC. Why should the ruling party at the Centre, with an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, and pragmatically speaking, enough muscle to manage adequate support in the Rajya Sabha, suddenly take to second guessing and balloon floating, especially ahead of the certain state Assembly elections, on a crucial issue?
The UCC, along with several other difficult and contestable matters, were placed in the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution by our founding fathers. The issue was never about if they were convinced about the validity of the policy, but its timing. Otherwise, the wise people who gave us our sacred parchment would have never included it, even if as a non-enforceable recommendation.
So, when BJP leaders, especially its president J.P. Nadda, makes it a matter of an election promise ahead of a state election, as happened on Sunday in Himachal Pradesh, it is a matter of the BJP reducing its greatest USP - of being led by a fearless leader and giving us a brave government.
The UCC cannot, by its very definition, be a state subject. We can’t have different uniform civil codes; we can’t end communal and cultural heterogeneity in favour of state-level UCCs.
Of course, if, and we do not know, the BJP has decided to go ahead with the UCC, but has decided to set the agenda softly, letting the people react to it, debate it, discuss it, and will actually decide on its implementation dates based on public opinion, it is a good change. But such an approach must also be transparent.
India must not lose this opportunity to implement a dream of its greatest and earliest citizens, of a one strong nation, united in as many ways as possible, before this term of the BJP runs its course.
Mr Modi will go down in history as one who has implemented the maximum number of contentious bills during this tenure and creating a nation that can finally, historic dues settled, move on into the brave new future that awaits us....