New Delhi/Mumbai: An uproar erupted Wednesday over a Republic Day government advertisement featuring the preamble of the Constitution sans the words “secular” and “socialist”. But Shiv Sena suggested the words be removed permanently.
While the opposition Congress party asked the government to apologies, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government defended itself, saying the picture of the original preamble in the advertisement was as it came into force Jan 26, 1950, two months after being adopted by the Constituent Assembly Nov 26, 1949.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, however, welcomed the exclusion of the two words from the 66th Republic Day advertisement issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
“We welcome this. Though it may have occurred inadvertently, it was like honouring the feelings of the people of India. If the terms were mistakenly deleted this time, we want them to be removed permanently from the Constitution,” Raut told media persons.
The BJP, however, dismissed it as the Shiv Sena’s view and refused to comment over the issue. “That is their (Shiv Sena’s) view, I cannot comment on other party’s views,” BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao told IANS.
The Congress party, meanwhile, said the government should apologise and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify the government’s stance on the two words.
“The advertisement issued by Narendra Modi-led BJP government reflects an affront to the Constitution and sacrilegious insult to its (the constitution’s) ethos,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Wednesday.
“…we demand an immediate apology from the government of India on the issue… We also call upon the prime minister to clarify his stand on his definition and understanding of the words secularism and socialism,” he added.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, however, clarified that the original preamble of the Constitution did not have the words “socialist” and “secular”.
The minister said a picture of the original preamble was used for the advertisement to “honour” it.
He also tweeted pictures of the original preamble and after the 42nd Amendment, which added the words “secular” and “socialist” to it.
“This is the original preamble. The words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ were added in 1976,” he added.
“Let me assure you, we are celebrating the 66th Republic Day, that is, we are celebrating an anniversary of the preamble that was made way back then,” Rathore told reporters.
“The photograph that we have put is of the first preamble that our great leaders had made at that point of time,” Rathore said.
Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was a part of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s office, meanwhile, said that removing the words will be insulting Vajpayee’s legacy.
“BJP founder-president Bharat Ratna Vajpayee wanted secularism and socialism to be in the party’s constitution. Their removal means disowning ABV (Atal Bihari Vajpayee),” he tweeted.
“Why are BJP supporters so ignorant? Party’s own Constitution (last amended Sep 2012) says it’s committed to ‘secularism’ and ‘socialism’,” he said in another tweet.
“With RSS leaders talking about making India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, PM Modi must reassure nation that he remains committed to secularism,” Kulkarni added.
The advertisements, published in newspapers across the country to commemorate the 66th Republic Day celebrations, quotes the Preamble as: “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC.”
The preamble as it stands at present says: “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure all its citizens.”