Uniform Civil Code | Congress to hold back from reacting to PM Modi’s ‘dog whistle’

Party’s Parliamentary Strategy Group notes there has been no concrete step in that direction or a draft Bill in public domain

July 01, 2023 10:49 pm | Updated 11:23 pm IST - New Delhi

 Congress senior leader Jairam Ramesh addresses the media after the party’s Parliamentary Strategy Group meeting, at party Hq in New Delhi on Saturday.

Congress senior leader Jairam Ramesh addresses the media after the party’s Parliamentary Strategy Group meeting, at party Hq in New Delhi on Saturday. | Photo Credit: ANI

In the absence of a draft law or a concrete proposal on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the Congress in its meeting of the Parliamentary strategy group has decided, according to the sources, to refrain from responding to the “dog whistle” on the subject by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr. Modi on June 28, addressing a meeting of BJP’s booth-level workers in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, asserted that the country ”could not run with the dual system of separate laws for separate communities”.

Briefing the reporters at the end of the meeting, party’s general secretary (Communication), Jairam Ramesh, stated, “On 15th June, the party had issued a statement on the subject. Nothing new has happened between 15th June to 1st July, therefore we reiterate that statement.” He pointed out that so far, the government has not taken a concrete step in that direction and that there was no draft Bill in the public domain.

In its statement on June 15, issued a day after the Law Commission put out a notification to revisit UCC, the party quoted the 21st Law Commission which had declared that the UCC is “neither necessary nor desirable”.

“It was felt that we should not go into tizzy and chase our tails just because of the PM’s dog whistle,“ a Congress MP who attended the meeting said.

During the deliberations, it was also pointed out that the party has not stood against any reforms in personal laws. “In fact, during the UPA years, changes were brought to Hindu Succession Act, 1956, making it a level playing field for the women,” another MP said.

On July 3, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law — headed by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Modi — will meet to deliberate on UCC. And the same Law Commission report has been circulated as the agenda papers for the meeting. The party has five members in this committee and it will stick to its June 15 position of the “undesirability” of bringing in UCC as stated by the 21st Law Commission report.

On Manipur crisis

In the meeting that went on for more than two hours, the party also decided to up the ante on its demands for the resignation of Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh for his failure to contain the violence in the State for over 60 days now and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for the Balasore rail accident.

The party discussed former chief Rahul Gandhi’s two-day visit to Manipur. “There has been a complete collapse of governance in Manipur, we demand Prime Minister Narendra Modi break his silence. Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the State has proved to be a complete failure. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh must resign. What is happening in Manipur is of concern not just to people in Manipur, but to the people of North East and the rest of India as well,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Rajya Sabha MP Digvijay Singh, a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, had demanded a debate on Manipur but the committee Chairman Brij Lal rejected it.

Other issues

Taking a potshot at the Modi government’s overt emphasis on Vande Bharat trains, Mr. Ramesh said, “The railway safety is being compromised within the name of inaugurating Vande Bharat trains every day. We demand the Prime Minister give same or perhaps greater attention to rail safety than he giving to inaugurate the Vande Bharat trains.”

The party will also centre its attention on the rising prices of essential food items. Mr. Ramesh, flagging the issue, said, “The Congress president especially raised the issue of inflation, unemployment, and rise of cost of essential food commodities. The government claims that the inflation rates are falling, then why are the prices of tomatoes and other vegetables rising unchecked?”

The recent run-ins between the Governors and the elected State governments — especially in the context of Tamil Nadu, where Governor R.N Ravi ‘dismissed’ Minister V. Senthilbalaji only to retract the orders hours later — will also be a focus for the Congress. “The Governors are exceeding all Constitutional norms and propriety. And how governors are conducting themselves goes against Constitutional principles and practices,” Mr. Ramesh averred.

The treatment of the female wrestlers at the hands of Delhi Police during their protest against the Wrestling Federation of India Chief Brij Bhushan Singh and not inviting President Droupadi Murmu for the inauguration of the new Parliament building are the other issues that the party will take up during the forthcoming monsoon session.

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