Shimla: Less than a week before polls in Himachal Pradesh, the ruling BJP on Sunday promised to introduce the Uniform Civil Code – a contentious issue among Muslims because it will remove religion-specific laws – if the party is voted back to power.
The move, also promised in Gujarat, which goes to the polls next month, has been criticized by the opposition as a mere ploy to shore up the votes of the Hindu majority, as the civil code is widely seen as the domain of the center rather than the state.
The BJP in Himachal Pradesh has also promised “surveys” of Waqf properties – Islamic properties donated for religious or social work – to find out what is illegal. The move, when introduced in September in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, was also criticized as it was aimed at polarizing people.
Other highlights of the BJP’s manifesto include a promise to provide 8 million “job opportunities” within five years, a reduction in goods and services tax or GST on packaging for the state’s key apple crop from 18 percent to 12 and 33 percent reservation for women in government posts.
Released by BJP president JP Nadda, who belongs to the Himalayan state, it also promised cycles for girl students in classes 6 to 12, scooters for college girls, and five new medical schools.
Mr. Nadda said the state would set up a committee to introduce a uniform civil code — a repeat of the promise made in Gujarat.
He also criticized the Congress manifesto – released on Saturday – saying it lacked both vision and weight.
Elections to the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly will be held on November 12, with results expected on December 8, along with Gujarat elections, which will be held in two phases on December 1 and 5.
Himachal Pradesh has generally alternated between the BJP and the Congress in every election, a tradition the ruling party would hope to reverse as Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party attempts to make inroads into the state.