Former junior law minister S P Singh Baghel, who has recently been transferred to the Health Ministry, has assured that the proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will not affect the tribal rights and customs in the North East and other parts of the country.
He is the first member of the government to explicitly state this assurance amidst growing opposition.
In his new role as the Minister of State for Health, Baghel emphasised that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) values the diversity and culture of the tribal communities.
He emphasised that the party will not enforce any laws that contradict their interests.
Baghel pointed out that the BJP has made significant efforts to respect the customs of the North East. He highlighted the nomination of a tribal woman as the President of India, the highest post in the country.
He also mentioned that the party has a substantial number of tribal MLAs, MPs, Rajya Sabha members, and ministers.
However, he cautioned against appeasement politics and reiterated the party's commitment to not infringe upon any religious or social customs.
Furthermore, Baghel cited the sixth schedule of the Constitution, which provides special provisions for certain tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
He clarified that unless their respective state legislatures ratify the Centre's decision, these provisions will not be applicable to them.
Consultation with tribals from other states will be conducted and their opinions will be considered prior to the creation of any law, according to the minister.
In response to a statement by Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi, who chairs the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice, the minister stated that the tribal population in the North East and other regions should not be included in the scope of the UCC.
The UCC is a constitutional requirement that aims to replace the personal laws of various religious communities with a unified set of laws governing marriage, divorce, inheritance, and other matters.
The BJP has been actively advocating for the implementation of the UCC, which is a key ideological concern for the party.
This issue gained significant attention last week when Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a public debate on the topic during a rally in Madhya Pradesh.
Along with facing opposition from various quarters, particularly minority groups and tribal communities, the UCC has also encountered resistance due to concerns about its potential impact on identity and autonomy. Several NGOs and political parties, many of whom are allies of the BJP, have publicly voiced their opposition to the proposal.
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