The next steps of the Narendra Modi government, which has crossed important ideological milestones such as the virtual abrogation of Article 370, getting from the Supreme Court a verdict in support of the promised Ram temple in Ayodhya and the amendment of the Citizenship Act of 1955, can be
- a Population Control Act and
- a uniform or civil code (UCC)
After the CAB was passed by both the Houses of Parliament, the BJP leadership is mulling over these measures even as they have not been able to beat out a roadmap for the law on population. Sources said the leadership is aware of the popular demand for checking the population growth of a certain community, but they are apprehensive of the kind of public reaction the strongarm tactics of Sanjay Gandhi had elicited in the 1970s during Emergency. The bill that the government is, therefore, likely to come up with will encourage small families by way of providing them with more state facilities or privileges and disincentivise the large ones by keeping them deprived of these facilities. The proposed law, sources said, will have no mention of any community or religion.
Party sources said that BJP president Amit Shah had held an informal meeting with some party leaders on the CAB issue last Sunday. During the meeting, party leaders raised a demand for a common or uniform civil code and a Population Control Act, saying that it would get huge support from the people.
A senior BJP leader said, “Prime Minister Modi has given glimpses of his upcoming big moves in some speeches. Whoever listens to his speeches carefully gets some indication. In his speeches, the prime minister talked about cleanliness, black money, and the use of plastic bags; these big steps were taken later. Remember, his speech from the Red Fort this 15 August, in which he linked patriotism to having a small family.”
Indeed, the prime minister had said at an election rally recently that the people should expect from his second government things that were hitherto unthinkable after his first government spent its tenure in fixing the wrongs of the previous governments mostly run by the INC.
Prime Minister Modi had said on the occasion of the 73rd Independence Day, “We have to think for the coming generation on the fast-growing population. A limited family is going to be good not only for ourselves but also for the country. Those who are explaining the benefits of a limited family to the people need to be honoured now. Those with small families are like patriots.”
Since the UCC has been on the agenda of the Sangh Parivar since the days of the Jana Sangh, the government will bring a bill on this too. Many party leaders have raised this demand in the past. “However, some petitions were filed in the Supreme Court on this issue, which we need to study before coming up with drafts of the bills,” a leader said.
Another leader was of the opinion that petitions in the court will not make a difference. “If the government wants, like in the case of Article 370, it can bring a bill in the coming sessions. Cases on Article 370 were being heard in the court, but the government decided to remove it in Parliament,” he said.
“There will be one law for all religions when a UCC is created. The same rule on marriage, divorce, sharing of land and property will be applicable to the people of all religions,” the leader added.
In the meantime, the amended Citizenship Act of 1955 as per the bill that was passed by Parliament in the past two days has become the new law. It was notified in the Gazette of India on 13 December.