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Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP manifesto promises uniform civil code to Article 370, Sangh’s core concerns find space

The manifesto also talks about abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and annulling Article 35A which provides special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of the state.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 09, 2019 10:20 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The BJP manifesto has also made space for the Sabarimala issue, on which the Sangh and its affiliates have criticised the Supreme Court for interfering in what they called was a “matter of faith”.
The BJP manifesto has also made space for the Sabarimala issue, on which the Sangh and its affiliates have criticised the Supreme Court for interfering in what they called was a “matter of faith”.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
         

While the word “cow” has been replaced with “cattle” and the Ram temple issue finds only a passing mention, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto released on Monday has focused on other key concerns, including abrogation of Article 370 and implementation of uniform civil code, raised by the party’s ideological parent, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The document has also made space for the Sabarimala issue, on which the Sangh and its affiliates have criticised the Supreme Court for interfering in what they called was a “matter of faith”.

Last year, the apex court had allowed entry of women of all ages to the Lord Ayyappa temple in Kerala’s Sabarimala.

The manifesto also talks about abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and annulling Article 35A which provides special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of the state.

Senior functionaries of the Sangh said they are not disappointed with the perfunctory references to the Ram temple construction or the issue of cow protection in the document, since they are assured that the party will fulfil these promises, if it returns to power at the Centre.

“We reiterate our stand on Ram Mandir. We will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya,” the manifesto reads.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which has been pushing the government to bring a legislation for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, reposed faith in the party as well. Surendra Jain, a senior functionary of the VHP, said they would like to see the construction begin as soon as possible, but does not doubt the government’s intent.

“Even in the case of restoring the provisions of the [Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe] Prevention of Atrocities Act, the government brought an ordinance only after the Supreme Court gave its judgment. The party leadership has already clarified that a decision on the construction [of Ram temple] will be taken after the court gives its verdict,” said Rajiv Tuli, a senior functionary of the Delhi unit of the RSS.

This is in contrast to the posture that was visible when the party refused to bring an ordinance for the construction of the temple even as the case is being heard in the Supreme Court or when PM Narendra Modi lashed out at the cow vigilantes.

In 2009 and 2014, the issue of cow protection and a complete ban on the slaughter of cows that has been central to the RSS’s ideological canvassing were adequately raised in the election documents. There are no such references in this year’s manifesto, but it says, “…We have given utmost importance to the dairy sector and have established Kamdhenu Aayog for the conservation of indigenous species of cattle...”

The Sangh is not making too much of the fact that there is no heightened emphasis on the issues of cow slaughter and the Ram temple. “There are several key concerns that the party has clearly stated that it will work towards — the abrogation of Article 370 and annulling Article 35A, resettlement of refugees from West Pakistan — so this is not the time to question their intent,” said another RSS functionary.

Political commentator Hari Desai called the manifesto “old wine in a new bottle”. “When Modi and LK Advani took out the rath yatra from Somnath [in 1990], they had pledged that if they get a majority, they will make a law for the construction of [Ram] Temple. So far nothing has been done,” he said.

First Published: Apr 09, 2019 03:20 IST

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