Asserting that “some fraud elements” are marrying women from tribal communities and taking over land in their names, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday said everyone should marry only once and announced the decision to form a committee to look into implementation of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state
Opposition Congress criticised Chouhan’s statement and questioned whether the BJP is trying to interfere with tribal customs, which allow polygamy.
Addressing a rally at Chachariya gram panchayat, of Sendhwa block in Barwani district, Chouhan said, “Ek desh mein do vidhaan kyun chaley, ek hi hona chahiye (why should there be two laws in one country; there should be only one law).”
The announcement comes a year before Madhya Pradesh is scheduled to go to Assembly polls. BJP-led governments in election-bound Gujarat and Karnataka have also vowed to get UCC in their states, if elected back. The party’s government in Uttarakhand has already formed an expert committee to examine ways for implementation of UCC in the state.
Addressing villagers from tribal communities, Chouhan said, “Many badmaash (fraud elements) marry our tribal daughters and take over land in their name. I am in favour of…the time has come in India to implement the Uniform Civil Code. Why should anyone marry more than once?”
Criticising Chouhan, Congress spokesperson Abbas Hafeez said, “The Chief Minister made the statement in Barwani, which is a tribal-dominated district. Was he commenting on tribal customs and trying to tinker with their culture, for which even the Constitution has special provisions?”
Hafiz also targetted the BJP for making such statements ahead of Assembly elections for “political gains”. He said, “The CM needs to clarify if he referred to the Uniform Civil Code with an intent to end reservation, or if the government wants to change tribal customs. Also, if they really are serious, then the state Assembly is the place to discuss these issues, and not a political stage.”
The Congress leader also said, “We are ready to hold discussions on the issue in the Assembly backed by facts and reports.”
At the rally, Chouhan recounted benefits of the recently enforced PESA — The Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA Act) — rules that empower gram sabhas for welfare of villages. He highlighted gram sabha’s role and said, “Under the PESA Act, gram sabhas will be able to take action against people who are trying to grab land of tribal brothers and sisters in the name of a sacred bond like marriage.”
As irregularities in implementation of PM Awas Yojna, the Centre’s flagship housing scheme, came to light, Chouhan suspended Rajendra Dixit, the chief executive officer of Sendwa Janpad, on the spot.