The Times of India Editorial
Dec 15 2014
In Today's Polarised Atmosphere, Time for A Uniform Civil Code Is Not Yet Ripe
Law minister Sadananda Gowda is right when he says that a uniform civil code is mandated by the Constitution. Article 44 establishes having a uniform code is a directive principle of state policy. BJP likes to cite Congress's failure to establish a uniform civil code as an example of its perverse secularism. If Hindu personal laws can be modernised and freed from religious edicts, why can't the same be done for other personal laws? And once this is done, what is the rationale for having separate personal laws governing secular matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and so on for every religious denomination? This is not the practice in any other secular country. Even many Muslim countries have dropped archaic practices permitted in India such as divorce through triple Talaq.
While a uniform, modern and elegant civil code would grant equal rights to women and generally make citizens' lives simpler, the biggest flaw in the case for it is, well, that the case is being made by BJP and Sangh Parivar affiliates not known otherwise for their secularism. You can't advocate a uniform code in one breath and Ram Mandir in the next: each contradicts the other. A string of statements from BJP worthies over just the last couple of weeks demonstrates why their secular bonafides are suspect, leading to distrust. Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti infamously pronounced anyone not a progeny of Ram to be a Haramzada. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj confessed, on the floor of Parliament, his admiration for Gandhi's murderer Nathuram Godse. From the high office of UP's governor, Ram Naik called for building the Ram temple. State BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai claimed Taj Mahal to be part of an ancient Hindu temple. And this list is by no means exhaustive.
BJP's communalism is thus the mirror image of Congress's selective secularism and no reasonable middle ground has emerged. In the circumstances it's best for NDA to focus on the economy, governance and security matters for now and leave more controversial issues for later. As it is, the steady stream of sectarian statements from BJP and fellow travellers provide a handle to opposition to unite and block measures to revive the economy .Pushing a uniform code now will only make matters worse and come in the way of any constructive work from getting done.