UCC to be decisive in tribal-dominated states

For the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, the backlash from tribal outfits on UCC will be a cause for worry as the state has 47 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

Published: 09th July 2023 08:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th July 2023 08:34 AM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purpose only. (Express IIlustration)

NEW DELHI: With state elections around the corner, the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is likely to decide the fate of the main political parties in Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. As the debate around the common law gathers steam, various tribal bodies in all these states have come out in strong opposition to the legislation, saying it will infringe upon the customs and traditions of the community, which are safeguarded by constitutional provisions.

While the Mizoram assembly adopted a resolution opposing any move to implement the UCC, tribal bodies in other states have pointed out that the communities are protected by the Fifth Schedule and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. While BJP is trying to contain the damage by sending out signals that the tribal communities in certain states will be excluded from the ambit of the legislation, the Congress senses an opportunity, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram, where it is looking to snatch power from the saffron party.

For the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, the backlash from tribal outfits on UCC will be a cause for worry as the state has 47 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes. In the 2018 assembly election, the party managed to secure only 16 seats, a sharp fall from 31 seats in 2013. With 21.5 per cent, the state accounts for the largest tribal population in the country. Though Congress is yet to pronounce a clear stand on UCC, a state unit leader told the paper that the row on UCC will benefit the party and it will capitalise its campaign on the issue.

Speaking to this paper, a BJP functionary said the party has adopted a set of damage control measures to minimise any dent in its electoral prospects. The leader further said the government may tweak the legislation to exempt various tribal communities from the ambit of the law. Signalling the Centre’s willingness to make exceptions for tribals, Union Home Minister Amit Shah conveyed to a delegation of Nagaland leaders the Law Commission is considering the idea of excluding the Christian community and “some tribals” in the state from the UCC.

The Naga leaders say UCC would dilute the provisions of Article 371A, which guarantees special protection for the state. Tribal activists say Mizoram is also protected by Article 371G of the Constitution. The BJP is also facing stiff opposition from tribal outfits from poll-bound states Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan which has a sizable population of tribes.

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