Uttarakhand CM Dhami promises Uniform Civil Code if re-elected
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Saturday promised to implement a Uniform Civil Code in the state if his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retains power in the upcoming elections. He said a committee of experts will be formed to prepare a draft for the code. Dhami made the comments at a press conference in Khatima, where he was campaigning for his party.
- A Uniform Civil Code—an umbrella law for all people irrespective of their religion or faith—has long featured in the BJP's election manifestos.
- The announcement notably comes amid raging protests over the right to wear the hijab (a traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women) in schools and colleges.
- While BJP leaders lauded Dhami's promise, members of the Opposition Congress party have slammed him.
"Implementing Uniform Civil Code in Uttarakhand at the earliest will boost equal rights for everyone in the state," Dhami said during Saturday's press conference. The law will "enhance social harmony, boost gender justice, strengthen women empowerment and help protect the extraordinary cultural-spiritual identity and environment of the state," the CM added.
A Uniform Civil Code refers to a common set of laws governing personal issues such as marriage, divorce, succession, and adoption for all citizens of a state, irrespective of their religion or faith. At present, different laws are in place for such matters in India.
Welcoming Dhami's announcement, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya tweeted, "Thank you Sri @pushkardhami Ji for your commitment to protect the Uttarakhandi identity." Meanwhile, Congress leader Kapil Sibal blasted the Uttarakhand CM. "Please don't embarrass your party and yourself when you make announcements about implementing the Uniform Civil Code in Uttarakhand if BJP comes to power. This shows your party is losing in Uttarakhand," he tweeted.
Elections to elect members of the Uttarakhand Assembly are due to be held in a single phase on Monday, February 14. In the last state polls in 2017, the BJP had bagged 56 seats while the Congress won 11 in the 70-member Assembly. In the northern state, no party has managed to win back-to-back elections.