Will Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar oppose the implementation of the proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) or will again surrender to the whims of the BJP, its alliance partner, as was seen in the case of other contentious issues such as Article 370, Triple Talaq and Citizenship Bill in the past? The million-dollar question is being hotly debated in political circles as the BJP goes ahead with its plan to enforce its last agenda in its poll manifesto with an announcement to implement it in all the BJP-ruled states.
The proposed move brought the two key ruling NDA partners at loggerheads today with the BJP leadership looking hell-bent on implementing the controversial agenda and the JD-U headed by chief minister Kumar declaring not to compromise on its principles. “There is no question of implementing UCC in Bihar and so long Nitish Kumar is on the throne, it won’t be implemented,” declared JD-U leader and party’s parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha.
Describing the UCC implementation as the personal agenda of the BJP, Kushwaha said it is not necessary that every decision of its alliance partner should be implemented in the states under the NDA rule. “The JD-U has its own political ideology which doesn’t match with the certain agendas of the BJP. UCC is one of them and our party just can’t compromise with its principles,” asserted Kushwaha, a former union minister in the Narendra Modi government. He rejected the media query that the BJP would put pressure on the JD-U to implement the issue adding the country was being run by its Constitution and would continue to do so.
In sharp contrast to the JD-U’s stand, the BJP leadership has gone on putting pressure on the Nitish Kumar government to implement the UCC “in the interest of the society and country”. “Wherever the BJP/NDA governments are in power, we hold the right to implement it. This is in the interest of the people, society, and the whole nation, and even the opposition governments too should follow us,” BJP leader and Minister for Revenue and Land Reforms Ram Surat Rai told newsmen, kicking off virtual storms in the NDA camp. Rai rejected Kushwaha’s opposition to UCC as the personal opinion of a leader which, he said, was nothing unusual in a democratic country.
Another BJP minister in the Nitish government Janak Ram too has demanded its implementation while Union minister Giriraj Singh has been seeking its enforcement for a long. The issue of UCC implementation kicked up soon after Union home minister Amit Shah while addressing a function in Bhopal said UCC is being applied “as a pilot project in Uttarakhand and will be applied across the country”. “Whether it is Article 370, Ram Mandir, or any other matter, under the leadership of PM Modi, we have resolved the disputed issues. Now, the full focus is on the Uniform Civil Code,” was how he said a couple of days back.
Given this background, it becomes really interesting to see how long the JD-U keeps opposing this issue. In fact, the experts are taking the JD-U’s opposition with a pinch of salt given the way the Kumar-led party took a U-turn on various controversial issues in the past. They include abrogation of Article 370, ending Triple Talaq, and passage of the Citizenship Bill. “The issue is fraught with risks and hence we don’t think the JD-U will stay in power by opposing the BJP agenda,” said a political analyst, adding Kumar’s move to join an Iftar party thrown up by the RJD holds much political significance in this situation.