The Sena’s demand also drew flak from Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi who described it as “destructive”, “reprehensible” and “contemptuous statement made out of ignorance and bigotry” while Samajwadi Party said it is “unfortunate” and would send a wrong message to the world.
Trying to play down the issue, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the government was “committed to secularism” and “there is no thinking of removing it” from the Preamble of the Constitution.
“We are committed to secularism. There is no problem about it. And there is no thinking to remove it also,” the Union Housing and Poverty Alleviation Minister told reporters, when his views were sought on the matter.
He said, “secularism is there in the blood of Indian people that’s part of our culture. It was not there in original Preamble and it was inserted during Emergency but government advertisement was about the original Preamble and we are committed to secularism and we don’t have any idea to drop it.”
PMK expressed shock over the Government’s suggestion for a debate on the Preamble after the Sena demand in the wake of its controversial advertisement and sought to remind it that it had sailed to power on the development plank and it should stick to the same.
“Shiv Sena’s demand for dropping the words socialist and secular from the Preamble to the Constitution and Union IT Minister Ravishankar Prasad’s statement that it should be debated is shocking,” PMK founder S Ramadoss said in Chennai.
Ramadoss said Prasad’s statement that government had a plan to to use the original Preamble, which did not have the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’, was ‘not right’.
He voiced doubts if the advertisement, which had carried a picture of the Preamble as it appeared before the 42nd Amendment without the words was a ‘planned’ affair.
“Socialism and secularism are the fundamental identities of this country and should continue so forever. The words should continue (in the pictures) and none in India should think of changing them. Debates in this regard are unnecessary,” he said in a statement.
In Patna, Manjhi said “Some people are saying secularism is not needed and India should forget about it. This is very worrying.”
“Mahatma Gandhi always spoke about co-existence, but have we become so insensitive that we can say secularism is not needed,” the chief minister added.
Tushar, who is also the Managing Trustee of Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, stressed on the need for secularism, diversity and plurality in the country.
“Such a demand is reprehensible. It is a contemptuous statement made out of ignorance and bigotry. Leave alone pursuing, it should not be given importance by anybody,” he told reporters reacting to the Sena demand.
Taking strong exception to the Sena demand, Samajwadi Party said it is “unfortunate” and that it would give out a wrong message to the world.
“Even thinking of deleting words secular and socialist is saddening and unfortunate. This could not be a mere coincidence that the Centre deleted the words in its ads and its ally Shiv Sena saying that these two words can be permanently dropped from the Preamble. This is an insult to freedom fighters, who had a dream to see India as a socialist country,” SP leader Shivapal Yadav told reporters in Lucknow.
Prasad yesterday indicated that the government wanted a debate on whether the words “socialist and secular” should remain in the Preamble. “What is wrong if there is a debate on these two words? Let us see what the nation wants.”