The Maharashtra government’s ruling alliance, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), consisting of the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Shiv Sena, is treading cautiously in response to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) proposal of implementing a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India. With the general elections just six months away, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent call for the UCC has stirred the political landscape across the nation, prompting all parties to assess its implications. The MVA, however, has dismissed the proposal as a “political ploy” aimed at diverting attention from more pressing issues.
The state Congress president, Nana Patole, wasted no time in setting up a 9-member expert panel to study and analyze the UCC. The panel includes esteemed individuals such as Dr. Bhalchandra Mungekar, Kumar Ketkar, Hussain Dalwai, Anees Ahmed, Vasant Purke, Kishore Gajbhiye, Amarjeet Singh Manhas, Janet D’Souza, and Ravi Jadhav. While NCP president Sharad Pawar has issued a gag order preventing party leaders from commenting on the matter, top party officials have maintained a neutral stance. Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray expressed his party’s support for the UCC but emphasized the need for clarifications from the central government regarding its impact on different communities.
Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena Member of Parliament, hinted that his party may back the BJP’s proposal after examining the draft bill. The three parties in the MVA alliance share a common belief that the UCC is being pursued by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) without sufficient consultations with opposition parties or consideration for existing personal laws. Patole highlighted that the Muslim, Christian, and Parsi communities already have independent personal laws, while the Hindu Civil Code applies to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. Implementing the UCC would necessitate its application to all communities.
NCP working president Praful Patel called for a cautious approach, stating that they neither support nor oppose the proposed law. He views it as a political gimmick ahead of the upcoming general elections. In a strong editorial statement published by the Saamana Group, Shiv Sena expressed that opposing Muslim Personal Law alone cannot be the basis for the UCC. The party emphasized the importance of maintaining equality and justice for all through a comprehensive and fair legal framework.
Taking a dig at the central government, the editorial argued that while a uniform law is desirable in religious, social, economic, and political aspects, implementing a common code with “double standards” would be deceptive. Patole mentioned the diverse traditions in different regions of India, such as the North-East, tribal areas, South India, and minority communities, who are concerned that the UCC may interfere with their religious practices. Patole stressed the need for the Congress panel to thoroughly examine all aspects of the UCC and submit a comprehensive report promptly.