Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly advocated for a Uniform Civil Code in India, there is strong talk that the Modi government may try to implement the proposal before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The UCC has been a key plank of the BJP’s election manifesto over the years. However, the UCC will have to pass the test of Parliament before becoming a law.
With the majority in the Lok Sabha, it will be easy for the BJP to get the UCC bill passed. But all eyes will be on the passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP, along with its allies, is just a few steps short of the majority mark. It is to be noted here that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has given a big hope to BJP, as AAP has given in-principle support to UCC. But will AAP’s support be enough to get the UCC Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha?
According to the data on the Rajya Sabha website, out of the total strength of 245 members of the Upper House, 8 seats are currently vacant. This means that at present there are a total of 237 members in the Upper House. The BJP will need the support of at least 119 Rajya Sabha members to get the UCC passed into law. At present, the BJP has 92 members in the Rajya Sabha. The BJP lost one seat last week when its Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh, Hardwar Dubey, passed away. Including other allies, the total strength of the NDA in the Rajya Sabha is 109 members. This means that the Modi government will need the support of 10 more members to successfully pass the Uniform Civil Code Bill in the Rajya Sabha. When it comes to neutral parties, both BJD and YSR Congress have 9 members each in Rajya Sabha. If they both decide to support BJP on UCC, then it will easily get the required majority in Rajya Sabha to pass the UCC bill.
However, sources have been quoted as saying that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party will not support the UCC Bill in the Rajya Sabha keeping in mind the minority vote bank, which effectively means BJP will be short of 1 vote. Even if BJD supports him in the House. After this, AAP can prove to be a trump card in getting the UCC Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha. The support of the Kejriwal-led party with 10 seats in the Rajya Sabha (3 from Delhi, 7 from Punjab) could help the BJP get the UCC approved in Parliament.
During the session, voting will also take place for 10 Rajya Sabha seats, including those for External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien, which is scheduled for July 24. This is not likely to change much in the equations in the 237-member House. Because BJP and TMC have enough strength to retain their seats in respective assemblies (West Bengal, Gujarat and Goa).
However, the only change would be that the BJP would gain one seat in West Bengal at the cost of the Congress. If this happens, then the strength of NDA will again be 110. Then the support of BJD or AAP can help the central government to pass the UCC through the Parliament. Thus, the only hurdle in the path of UCC could be BJP’s ally or neutral BJD, if either of them abstains from supporting the bill, then it will be difficult for BJP to pass the Uniform Civil Code Bill in Rajya Sabha . However, the likelihood of this is very small. ( PLC/ GT )