Initiating discussion on ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution as part of 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lok Sabha that the architect of the Constitution had never thought of putting the term secularism in the Preamble but it was incorporated through an amendment in 1976.
“The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were incorporated in the Preamble through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. We have no objection. Let bygone be bygone. B.R. Ambedkar had never thought the necessity to incorporate it in the Preamble as these two words were part of the Constitution. It is inbuilt in the Indian system,” he said amidst protests from Congress.
Countering his contention, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge objected to the Home Minister’s remarks and said Ambedkar was also in favour of putting the word in the Preamble, but could not do so due to the prevailing situation then.
Singh objected to the use of Hindi word ‘Dharma Nirpekshta’, saying the literal translation of the secularism should be ‘Panth Nirpekshta’ and it should be regularly used as it is the official Hindi translation of secularism.
“Secularism is the most misused word in the country. Its misuse should come to an end. Because of the rampant misuse of the word, there have been instances of tension in the society,” he said in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi besides others.
The Home Minister said it was difficult to maintain social harmony because of the ‘rampant misuse’ of the word secularism.
The Home Minister said the issue of reservation has been politicised and made it clear that quota was a constitutional provision and there was ‘no scope’ for any further debate on the issue.
“Reservation is a socio-political necessity. Hence, there is a constitutional provision for it,” he said.
The remarks came weeks after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat supported a review of the reservation system in the country. Top BJP leaders, during Bihar Assembly polls, repeatedly assured that the government would not do away with the present quota system.
Asserting Modi government’s commitment for safety and security of every Indian, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, Singh said everyone born in India is Indian and all are brothers.
He said India was the only country where all 72 sects of Muslims lived and communities like Zoroastrian and Jews felt safe while facing persecution elsewhere.
Besides paying glowing tributes to Ambedkar, the Home Minister remembered the contribution of late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and late Home Minister Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel in nation building.
Singh termed Lord Ram as the greatest democrat saying he ordered his wife Sita to go ‘Agni Pariksha’ after someone raised the issue.
The Home Minister said the Prime Minister was inspired by the philosophy of Ambedkar and Constitution and launched schemes like ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, ‘Beti Badhao, Beti Padho’.
His remarks linking the projects with Ambedkar’s vision invited strong reactions and jibes from opposition benches.
When Singh said the government is working for reservation of 33 per cent jobs for women in paramilitary and state police forces, a member from the Congress asked why the Modi government was delaying the Constitution amendment bill to provide for one-third reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
In his tributes to Ambedkar, the Home Minister said he was also the brain behind the establishment of the Reserve Bank of India, Finance Commission and several waterways projects across the country.