Uttarakhand’s incumbent Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami played his biggest pre-poll card on Saturday. He announced that if it is voted back to power, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government will implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the state. In the Assembly polls of 2017, the BJP had won 56 seats in the 70-member house and the Congress had won 11 seats. Traditionally, in Uttarakhand, no party has managed to retain power and change is the norm. The state will go to polls on February 14 in a single phase and votes will be counted on March 10. Dhami has the massive task to ensure that the BJP retains power.
Dhami on Saturday told the media that if re-elected the BJP government will form a panel to prepare a draft of the Uniform Civil Code, “Soon after its swearing-in, the new BJP government will form a committee to prepare a draft of Uniform Civil Code in the state. This Uniform Civil Code will provide for the same laws regarding marriages, divorce, land-property and inheritance for all people, irrespective of their faith.”
Dhami had been sworn in as the 10th Chief Minister of Uttarakhand on July 3, 2021, in the face of a political crisis after the resignation of Tirath Singh Rawat from the post. Rawat himself was Chief Minister of Uttarakhand only from March 2021 till July 2, 2021. It was under Dhami’s nose that the Hindutva conclave was held in Haridwar between December 17 and 19 2021, where hate speech after hate speech was made by religious leaders, right-wing activists, hardline fundamentalist speakers and several calls were made for a Muslim genocide.
Global outrage had followed and questions asked about how the state government and police did not shut down the Hindutva hate conclave ironically named the ‘Dharma Sansad’ or ‘Religious Parliament’ at Haridwar. The hateful videos of the “event” are still viral. The three-day event was a platform for hate speech that repeatedly called for violence, especially against-Muslims. Dhami’s response to the hate speech event as it unfolded and the aftermath has been most guarded to say the least.
Now he says, the UCC is a part of the BJP’s plan “and will be fulfilled as soon as the new BJP government is formed. To keep the culture and heritage of ‘Devbhoomi’ intact is our prime duty, we are committed to this.” He claimed that the “implementation of the law” in the state “at the earliest” will boost equal rights for everyone, “It (Uniform Civil Code) will enhance social harmony, boost gender justice, strengthen women empowerment and help protect the extraordinary cultural-spiritual identity and environment of the state.” Dhami told the media that “this will also be an impactful step towards Article 44 that provides for UCC for all citizens.”
However, Dhami now needs to explain how he hopes to implement the proposed Uniform Civil Code which he has announced just two days before the state goes to polls. Congress leader Kapil Sibal called him out and said this was a sign of “BJP is losing in Uttarakhand” adding that Dhami needs “some legal advice”.
Pushkar S Dhami
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 Uttrakhand
You need some legal advice
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) February 12, 2022