BHUBANESWAR: Former External Affairs minister and senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Saturday called for an extensive debate and dialogue on the issue of Uniform Civil Code saying the time for such a move is yet to come.
Khurshid said this while in conversation with Bangalore-based historian Vikram Sampath during the session 'The Muslim Saga' at the fifth edition of Odisha Literary Festival organised by The New Indian Express here.
Describing the Uniform Civil Code as an arbitrary rule, Khurshid said the proposed law is silent on many crucial issues concerning the Hindus, Muslims and other communities. "Many complicated issues are there," the senior Congress leader said and added, "What about the customary laws of Muslims and Hindus?" He said there should be an extensive discourse on these issues to arrive at a consensus.
Sampath raised questions on wide-ranging issues during the conversation including reservation, triple talaaq, Shah Bano case, ban on books, BJP's slogan of a 'Congress Mukt Bharat' and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policy initiative 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'.
The former minister also called for a national debate on what should be permitted to be written or not while referring to Salman Rushdie's book on which, he said, restriction was imposed on its import.
On the issue of reservation, Khurshid said the idea should be reconsidered. "We believe in reservation, but there should not be reservation for only X and not for Y," he said and added that reservation should be for an identifiable group which has suffered disadvantage. But it should be across the board in public as well as private sector, he said.
The senior Congress leader said he had floated the idea of an Equal Opportunity Commission when the UPA was in power. "But my senior and junior colleagues did not accept such an idea," he said.
Taking a dig at the Centre's policy initiative 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas', Khurshid asked, "What does equality mean? It is like forcing everybody to have vegetarian food even though some people like non-vegetarian food."
Replying to a question on triple talaaq, Khurshid said many Muslim countries do not have such a system of divorce. He, however, said extensive discourse is needed on the issue.
Defending Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who is at the receiving end of jibes from BJP leaders, Khurshid criticised them for their concern to fix things in Congress rather than concentrating on their own party. "When Congress will be required by people, it will be back," he said and added that there is a concerted campaign against the Congress.
Referring to the poverty and backwardness among Muslims which was highlighted by Sachar Commission and Ranganath Commission reports, Khurshid said the Centre had launched several special programmes for all-round development of the minorities which failed.
Khurshid's book 'At Home in India- The Muslim Saga' has dealt with all these issues. The book recounts how Muslims in India accept this country as their own.