With the BJP apparently preparing to bring in the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) before the 2024 general elections, the political cauldron over the issue has started simmering.
The BJP wants to bring in the UCC in order to polarise voters on religious lines and keep the tide in its favour.
However, the Samajwadi Party, the main opposition force in Uttar Pradesh, has said that it will strongly oppose a move to implement the UCC.
SP President Akhilesh Yadav said: "The BJP deliberately rakes up such issues to create a rift in the society. Samajwadi Party follows the politics of harmony, the politics of socialising with each other which 'Netaji' (SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav) taught us. The SP will never support such bills and will strongly oppose it."
Akhilesh Yadav is in an upbeat mood after his party won the Mainpuri seat and his alliance partner, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, trounced the BJP in Khatauli assembly seat.
A senior party leader said that in order to retain its M-Y (Muslim Yadav) vote bank, the SP will strongly oppose the UCC which, in any case, "is BJP's yet another tool against minorities, mainly Muslims".
The Samajwadi Party knows that, at present, other political outfits in the state are not in a position to take on the BJP and the SP alone can put up a spirited fight on the issue.
SP spokesman Abdul Hafiz Gandhi said: "India is a country that is known for its diversity of traditions and cultures. We are known for bringing unity in this diversity. The Uniform Civil Code goes against the unifying concept of diversity."
"UCC is a directive principle. One fails to understand that when the present government is crushing fundamental rights, why the government put much emphasis on implementing Article 44 of the Constitution which is not even justiciable."
The Samajwadi Party says that it is unfair to impose laws and practises of majority community over tribals, minorities, and disadvantaged sections.
"Our Constitution currently allows protection to the traditions and cultures of northeastern states; this would be difficult in UCC and lastly, for the current dispensation, UCC is a tool for polarisation," said Gandhi.
Moreover, he said, why to make uniform civil laws, when even criminal laws are also not same, as there are state specific amendments resulting in different laws for different states.
The Samajwadi Party is gearing up to put up a spirited fight against the BJP on the issue, as and when the government brings in the bill.
Another SP leader said: "We believe that not all Hindus will support UCC because a large section of the majority community is in favour of maintaining a status quo and allowing every person his personal choice of religion."
Other parties including the Bahujan Samaj Party, meanwhile, are maintaining a studied silence on the issue which is working in favour of the SP that hopes to get minority support in the general elections.