Following the Supreme Court verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in the Ayodhya case, BJP leaders and supporters have started talking about the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) with renewed vigour. It cannot be dismissed as social media blabber, much as the users of that medium were on the forefront of the renewed campaign yesterday. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has now stated the need for governance of all Indians by one set of laws. When reporters asked him about his idea of the UCC, he said, “It’s time!”
The BJP was once accused of doing mandir politics. The rivals that had no interest in a Ram temple in Ayodhya would tease the saffron party, saying, “mandir wahīn banāyenge, lekin kab banāyenge nahīn batāyenge [we will build the temple right there (on the disputed plot), but we wouldn’t tell you when we will do that]!” After the Supreme Court verdict paving the way for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, the taunt has turned infructuous. Supporters of the BJP are, therefore, enlisting on social media their ideological milestones that the Narendra Modi government has passed already and the road further ahead. The UCC is prime among the goals.
A much-followed Rishi Bagree writes on Twitter:
Hearing on UCC in Delhi High Court
Petitions seeking a UCC are to be heard in the Delhi High Court. High Court Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Harishankar will hear the case on 15 November.
Factors that help ideological dreams of UCC kind come true
BJP no longer isolated
The verdict of the apex court on Saturday has in a way created a good situation for the BJP, which had agitated on it and remained isolated in the political system for a long time. After all, it has won the issue in a way and has presented the construction of Ram temple as a national aspiration.
But long before this verdict, the acceptance of BJP as a mainstream party had begun during the NDA 1 government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee that had more allies than the preceding coalition governments headed by HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral. Before that, at the time of failing to prove its majority after running a minority government for 13 days, Vajpayee had, however, hinted there would come a time when the BJP would no longer be treated as a pariah by the Indian polity. Among the rousing speeches delivered in Parliament that day, the late Sushma Swaraj had said it was wrong to treat her party as an untouchable because it advocates UCC.
However, the allies, while building the idea that the BJP was no longer untouchable, came with their fair share of baggage. From there to Narendra Modi’s government in 2014 has been a journey where the ruling party would still be a part of a larger coalition and yet the dependence on the allies would be felt less owing to its ow absolute majority.
JD(U)’s veto power reduced in NDA
Since the BJP got a majority on its own in 2014, its hold in the NDA has grown significantly and the veto power of allies like the JD(U) has almost ended. Back in power in 2019 with more seats than before, Prime Minister Modi did not bend over backwards to accommodate the JD(U), giving it the ministries it had demanded.
Further, unlike Vajpayee, the current Modi regime does not have allies like Mamata Banerjee’s TMC or N Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP to stop it from bringing in a UCC.
If not for the loss of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh during Modi 1.0, the BJP would have attained the magic figure in the Rajya Sabha by now as well. But even the elusive numbers are no longer a handicap. Tact and floor management have helped the BJP get rid of Article 370 and bring in the law against triple talaq. The latter has shown how to build perception by communicating to the low-hanging fruits or any other right constituency in an otherwise hostile larger section of the electorate. The ruling party played the feminist and human rights cards to move against the Islamic practice unfair to women. UCC can be pushed similarly. It can not only be made to look secular by saying there are a few unfair Hindu laws as well, which UCC will get rid of, it can, at the same time, be made to concede a long-standing demand of Hindus to free temples from state control. While pushing UCC, Modi can ask the people, ‘Since government does not control mosques and churches, why should it control temples? Let the code be uniform.’ Muslims and Christians will find it near impossible to counter this argument as it does not affect their places of worship at all.