Nagpur: Parliament cannot “impose” the Uniform Civil Code on citizens as the Constitution gives a person religious freedom, said Dr B R Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar, who is the head of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), on Wednesday.
In case the Uttarakhand government implements UCC in the hill state, the choice will be with the people whether they want to live as per the code or as per their religion (personal law), he claimed. He also wondered if the state has the right to implement it in the first place.
Ambedkar was addressing a press conference in Nagpur.
To a query on the BJP-led Centre’s wish to roll out UCC across the country, Ambedkar said that Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution give a person the freedom to adopt a religious life as long as it doesn’t conflict with any fundamental rights.
Besides, the government cannot “impose” UCC unless it changes the Constitution completely, he said.
People will now have clarity over whether they want to accept UCC or follow their personal laws, he said.
Ambedkar wondered whether the Uttarakhand government has the right to bring in UCC. Even if the state implements it, people will have the choice of whether to accept it or live as per their religion, he said.
“Besides, all this is propaganda and nothing else,” he said.
The Uttarakhand Assembly on Wednesday passed the Uniform Civil Code Bill, which may serve as a template for other BJP-run states to enact similar legislation.
Coming just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the move ticks off an important item on the BJP’s ideological agenda – a common law on marriage, divorce, land, property and inheritance for all citizens, irrespective of their religion.
Ambedkar also said that the cotton sector is shrinking and demanded incentives for growers. He said VBA has prepared a document concerning the cotton and textile industry and it will be presented to the government.
The cotton and textile industry brings in more than Rs 1 lakh crore in foreign exchange and nearly 60 lakh people depend on it for livelihood. The state and central governments do not give the importance to the sector that it deserves, he said.
Ambedkar demanded that the government give the same protection to the cotton sector as the diamond industry.
He said VBA has proposed that the government give a bonus of Rs 500 per quintal to cotton farmers. Similarly, Rs 5 per quintal should be paid to cotton pickers (labourers) from the Maharashtra government’s employment guarantee scheme, he said.
The proposal has been shared with the opposition block of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), he said, adding that if the government fails to act on it, VBA will implement it if it comes to power.
To a query on VBA’s alliance with MVA, Ambedkar said a discussion on a common minimum programme will be held first before they proceed with seat-sharing talks. No discussion on seat-sharing has taken place so far, he said.