New Delhi: The Himachal Pradesh government is examining the possibility of introducing a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has said.
The CM’s comments come at a time when two other BJP-ruled states, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, are also considering bringing in the UCC — which is essentially a common set of civil laws on matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and succession for all citizens, irrespective of their religion.
“The UCC is a good decision, I think. We are examining how to implement it in the context of Himachal Pradesh. A decision will be taken in the future,” Thakur said during an interview with ThePrint Monday, when asked about neighbouring Uttarakhand’s efforts towards preparing a draft code.
In Uttarakhand, during the first Cabinet meeting held after the BJP retained power in the polls this year, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami decided to form a committee of experts on the implementation of the UCC in Uttarakhand. The Uttar Pradesh government has also expressed its desire to bring the UCC.
On Saturday, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said that the BJP government was “thinking seriously” in the direction of implementing the UCC in the state.
Thakur said it is “only after examining [the issue] that we can make a decision”.
“I feel that it is proper to conduct a study and examine the issue before implementing it,” he added. “We need to understand what is the relevance and justification of it (UCC) in terms of Himachal Pradesh. We also need to understand what benefit the state can get out of it and whether it has to be implemented in the same manner, or certain changes are required. A final decision will be taken after examining all these issues.”
Asked whether such a code could be implemented before the assembly elections, expected to be held later this year, Thakur said: “We are not ruling [it] out, we are examining how it will be implemented or how it can be better. Though we have not formed a committee to examine the issue, we have told the officials to study and find out how it can be done. Decision will be made after properly studying it.”
The Himachal CM also said the party is confident of coming to power in the state, reversing the trend of ruling governments never being voted back for a second term.
In the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP won 44 of the state’s 68 seats, while the Congress scored 21.
Bypolls were a ‘timely alert’
Thakur said the results of last year’s bypolls, in which the party lost three assembly and one parliamentary seat, were a “timely alert”, and the party is now confident of coming to power.
“We lost out due to a small margin and we have made all efforts to improve the situation,” he added.
The BJP has already made it clear that it will fight the elections under Thakur. The party’s national president J.P. Nadda made the announcement during a visit to the state on 11 April.
Hitting out at the Aam Aadmi party (AAP), which is trying to establish itself in the hill state, Thakur said their entire leadership had been wiped out, referring to a series of defections from the party.
“They have nothing left in the name of leadership here. The AAP state president and its women’s wing state president joined the BJP. One must understand that Himachal Pradesh never accepted a third alternative,” he added. “In this election, too, the contest is between the BJP and the Congress and we are confident of coming to power again.”
In the absence of leadership in the state, Thakur said, the AAP is importing leaders from Punjab and Delhi.
“They insulted people of Himachal Pradesh by not allowing any of their state leaders to share the vehicle in Kejriwal’s roadshows. Their entire state unit has been wiped out and they haven’t been able to form the state unit again,” Thakur added. “They are now busy sending leaders from Delhi and Punjab to manage its affairs in Himachal Pradesh. During roadshows in Mandi, Kangra, no AAP leaders were allowed to share the rath with Kejriwal. Himachal is a small state, but people have self-respect and will not take any insult from others,” the Himachal Pradesh CM said.
No party has come back for a second term in Himachal in the last three decades — a trend that the BJP hopes to change.
“Riwaz badal gaya hai (tradition has changed), and in Himachal Pradesh also, the BJP will form government for a second term,” Thakur said.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)