While the Janata Dal (United) is not against the Uniform Civil Code, it should be implemented through a consensus, party leader KC Tyagi told The Indian Express on Wednesday.

The Janata Dal (United) is a key ally in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

“[Bihar Chief Minister] Nitish Kumar made a submission to the Law Commission in 2017 on UCC [Uniform Civil Code],” Tyagi told the newspaper. “Our stand remains the same. We are not against UCC, but we want it to come through consensus.”

The Uniform Civil Code, an ideological plank of the BJP, is a proposed common set of laws governing marriage, divorce, succession and adoption for all citizens. Currently, the personal affairs of different religious and tribal groups – except in Uttarakhand and Goa – are based on community-specific laws, largely derived from religious scripture.

Legal experts have said that the code could lead to the erasure of the personal law practices of minority communities, particularly Muslims, who constitute around 14% of India’s population, according to the 2011 census.

Tyagi’s statement came a day after Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said that implementing a Uniform Civil Code is a part of the newly sworn-in Union government’s agenda.

However, the Telugu Desam Party, another key ally in the National Democratic Alliance with 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha, has also stated that a decision on the issue of the Uniform Civil Code cannot be taken unilaterally.

“Issues like delimitation, Uniform Civil Code, etc., will be discussed at length and resolved amicably,” party leader and N Chandrababu Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh told The Indian Express on June 8. “We will sit together with partners across the table and try to achieve a consensus on all these issues. There is a lot to discuss.”

On June 7, three days after the National Democratic Alliance emerged victorious in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Tyagi had said that his party would want “all stakeholders, chief ministers, political parties and sects” to be consulted to prepare a draft of the Uniform Civil Code.

This came against the backdrop of Union Home Minister Amit Shah stating in May that the Uniform Civil Code would be implemented nationwide within the next five years if the BJP retained power at the Centre.

The BJP won 240 Lok Sabha seats in the Lok Sabha elections, 32 short of the simple majority required for it to form the government. This left the party dependent on its National Democratic Alliance partners.

Nitish Kumar’s 2017 letter

In his 2017 submission to the Law Commission, the Bihar chief minister had said that the Uniform Civil Code must be seen as a “measure of reform…not a political instrumentality”, according to The Indian Express.

“While the state must endeavour to bring in the UCC, such an effort, in order to be enduring and sustainable, must be based on a broad consensus…rather than be imposed by fiat from above,” Kumar had written.

He had also said that India was a “nation based on a delicate balance in respect of laws and governing principles for different religions and ethnic groups”.

According to Kumar, any attempt to impose the code could lead to “social friction and erosion of faith in the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion”.

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