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BJP calls for Uniform Civil Code

Press Trust of India

Posted: Apr 15, 2006 at 1157 hrs IST

In an indication that BJP under him was keen on regaining its 'Hindutva' moorings, party president Rajnath Singh on Saturday made a pitch for a debate in Parliament and outside to evolve a consensus on the issue of Uniform Civil Code.

"We want a debate in Parliament and outside on the issue of Uniform Civil Code. The Prime Minister should also constitute a national-level committee which should start a debate and evolve a consensus on the issue," he told a press conference before resuming his 'Bharat Suraksha Yatra.'

Stating that the seeds of divisiveness were sown by different communities following different laws, Singh said it was not only violative of Article 44 of Constitution which said the state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the country but also ran counter to the concern voiced by Supreme Court over effective steps not being taken to implement such a code.

"The former Chief Justice of Supreme Court V N Khare had observed that enforcement of a Uniform Civil Code will help the cause of removing contradictions based on ideology," the BJP president said adding a Uniform Civil Code was in force in Goa since the Portuguese rule and nobody was complaining.

In 1972, the then Union Law Minister H R Gokhale and later even the President of the country had strongly supported a Uniform Civil Code.

"The issue is not that of Hindus versus Muslims or Hindus versus Christians. We should see it in relation to the vital issue of national unity and integrity. National security atmosphere is threatened due to separate civil codes," he said.

Singh claimed a prominent Muslim cleric and All India Muslim Personal Law Board vice-chairman Maulana Kalbe Sadiq too had favoured a Uniform Civil Code.

“If a Common Civil Code is not enforced despite the Constitutional provision and opinions of the apex court and the President of India, one will be constrained to conclude that the Constitution and Parliament have been dwarfed by a particular religion,” he said.

“Islamic nations like Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan have Uniform Civil Code to which amendments are made from time to time,” the BJP president said adding ‘BJP advocates incorporating good practices of every religion in the Uniform Civil Code. If there is something good in the Shariat law that also should be included’.

Asked why the NDA, which was in power at the Centre for six years did not not take steps for enforcement of a Uniform Code then, he said BJP was then part of a coalition government bound by a Common Minimum Programme and could not have taken a separate initiative for the cause.

Singh condemned Friday’s blasts at Jama Masjid in Delhi and in Srinagar and charged the UPA government at the Centre with being ‘soft’ on terrorists.

“The repeal of POTA, sought by terrorist organisations and also by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Gauhar Ayub Khan in 2004, gave indication to the terrorists that the UPA government was not as strict on terrorism as it should have been,” he said.

On Leader of the Opposition L K Advani’s recent statement that he had opposed the release of terrorists, including Masood Azhar in lieu of the hostages at Kandahar in 1999, Singh said, “it (the release of terrorists) was the collective decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security”.

Asserting that Advani never made any categorical statement that he had opposed the decision to release the terrorists to secure the freedom of hostages, Singh said, “I don’t know how the media drew such a conclusion”.

“But definitely the NDA government had to swallow the bitter pill (of releasing the terrorists) for the safety of 200-250 passengers on board the flight,” he said.

Replying to a question, the BJP president disfavoured religion-based job reservation as it was violative of the Constitution but backed job quotas for socially, culturally and educationally backward sections.

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