The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP allies look other way on common code

New Delhi, July 24: The Supreme Court’s suggestion of a uniform civil code for all communities has elated the Sangh parivar and the BJP, but allies are unlikely to back any legislation on the subject in Parliament. For most of them, it is not a priority issue.

The BJP’s key ally, the Telugu Desam Party, wants the government to first check population growth. Asked for his opinion on a common code, Desam parliamentary party leader in the Rajya Sabha, C. Ramachandraiah, said “there should be a stringent law to check burgeoning population. That’s the need of the hour”.

After the apex court directive made headlines today, Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu held a teleconference with Ramachandraiah and K. Yerran Naidu, the party leader in the Lok Sabha, to formulate the party’s stand. They are likely to contact other NDA leaders to ascertain their views and take a united stand.

Stressing the need to control increasing population on a war footing, Ramachandraiah said: “Our resources are fast depleting but population is burgeoning. We are always on the lookout for contentious issues when we have numerous problems such as poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, poor health services and so on.”

In any case, the BJP should keep all contentious issues at bay. The NDA’s common minimum programme had skipped the three prickly issues of the uniform civil code, Ayodhya and Article 370, he said.

Ramachandraiah added that his party is yet to study the full text of the court’s observation and would comment only after proper study. However, for any such measure, “consensus is a must”, he stressed.

In contrast to the elation in the BJP and Sangh parivar ranks, the allies are cagey. Even 24 hours after the court suggestion, none of them were willing to comment, saying they are “yet to study” the court’s observations.

Samata Party spokesperson Shiv Kumar said he had not read the full text of the court order and was not in a position to react. So was the reaction of Janata Dal (United) parliamentary party leader Ramjeevan Singh. “We have not yet studied in toto the court order. We will discuss the issue next Wednesday in our parliamentary party meeting.”

But a senior Dal (U) leader who was not willing to be quoted said the court’s proposal would not be easy to implement in a country like India, which has diverse religions, culture and language.

Sources in the NDA said the overwhelming view as of now is that there is no need to rush into a decision on a sensitive issue like a uniform civil code.

They added that though they do not anticipate much resistance from Christians, the Muslims are likely to strongly oppose any move to impose a uniform civil code. “Muslims are permitted to keep as many as four wives, a civil code will not allow any such thing. The code will deprive Muslim males of some of their privileges,” said a senior NDA leader, requesting anonymity.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board had yesterday stated that it would oppose tooth and nail any move to impose a uniform civil code.

On the other hand, the VHP today demanded enactment of a legislation for a common code in the current session of Parliament. “Views of the apex court should be taken seriously. The central government must enact a legislation for a common civil code,” VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia said in Alwar.

“Every country has uniform law for all citizens, but only in India Muslims are subjected to separate religious laws,” he said.

Kanchi Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati also welcomed the suggestion that will help the cause of national integration.

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