THE BJP committed to bring Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the country but only after following all democratic processes and discussions on it, Home Minister Amit Shah said on Thursday.
Speaking at the Times Now Summit on ‘India: A vibrant democracy, global bright spot’, Shah said the UCC has been a promise of the BJP since its Bhartiya Jan Sangh days. “Not only the BJP, the Constituent Assembly had also advised Parliament and states that UCC should come in the country at an opportune time. For any secular country, laws should not be on the basis of religion. If a nation and states are secular, how can laws be based on religion? For every believer, there should be one law passed by Parliament or the state assemblies,” he said.
He said that the commitment of the Constituent Assembly was forgotten over a period of time. “Except the BJP, no other party is in favour of the UCC. They did not even speak on it. If they don’t have courage, they won’t oppose it. But they won’t say that, OK you implement it we are with you. We are a part of a democracy. In a democracy, healthy debate is a necessity. There is a need for open and healthy debate on the issue,” he said.
Shah said in three BJP-ruled states – Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh – panels under the chairmanship of retired Supreme Court judge and High Court chief justices have been formed, where all groups and people of different faiths are putting forth their views. “We will take any action on the basis of advice coming after this exercise. The BJP is committed to bring UCC but only after the conclusion of all democratic discussions,” he said.
On abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Shah said, “This is not a personal achievement. I am a member of the Cabinet and the achievement is of the Modi Cabinet and the government. But yes, in Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi government has brought in a drastic change.”
“It used to be said that Jammu and Kashmir is with India due to Article 370. Many security pundits used to say that do not touch 370, it will burn your hand. Now, Article 370 is gone and Jammu and Kashmir is prosperous and it has also helped in getting terrorism controlled in the country,” he said.
“A new democratic generation is coming up in Jammu and Kashmir where over 30,000 panches and sarpanches are percolating the democracy to grassroots,” he said.
Shah also said Rs 56,000 crore of investment had come into Jammu and Kashmir and a record 80 lakh tourists, the highest since Independence, visited the Union Territory since 2019. “As far as terrorism is concerned, since 1990s when it started, there are lowest incidents of terrorism now. Stone pelting has completely stopped. It is zero. It is a very big development of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government,” he said.
When asked about the issue of the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley, Shah said it is a relative question and the targeting of civilians and Hindus has drastically come down in the Valley. “We have targeted the roots of terrorism and it will take some time to completely uproot terrorism there,” he added.
Responding to a related question, Shah said the abrogation of Article 370 and the implementation of UCC cannot be compared. “If by 2024, it is possible that some states themselves might implement UCC. But if it doesn’t happen by then, in 2024, when we will return to power and then we will implement it,” he said.
Shah also exuded confidence in BJP’s victory in the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat assembly elections as also in the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) polls.
When asked about allegations of agencies like the CBI and ED being misused ahead of elections, Shah said that the federal bodies were working freely and anyone having grievances can move courts.
To a question on the need of having anti-conversion laws, Shah said wherever BJP-ruled state governments are there, such laws have been made. “In Gujarat, I can tell you in detail. We have it and we are implementing it strictly as well. It is for state legislatures to decide on it,” he said.