Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League on Saturday said it wants an “absolute return” to the 1972 constitution that recognised no state religion but certain “realities” did not allow such a change, two days after an amendment that retained Islam as the state religion sparked a political row.

“We will say ‘no’ if anyone asks us if we are absolutely satisfied with the constitutional amendment... but some realities made it impossible for Awami League to return to the 1972 constitution,” Awami’s Local Government Minister Syed Ashraful Islam told reporters.

On Thursday, the country’s parliament had passed the 15th constitution amendment, restoring four fundamental principles — nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism — of the 1972 constitution. However, it retained Islam as the state region.

The two issues —— Islam as the state region and ’Bismillah’ in the preamble —— do not go with the country’s first constitution introduced in 1972.

The minister, however, said that Islam was kept as the state religion “as a means to show respect to the people’s desire.”

The ruling party’s comments came as Bangladesh’s main grouping of religious minority people rejected the amendment retaining Islam as the state religion saying it declined the rights of an estimated two and half crore religious or ethnic minority people of the nearly 16 crore population.

Several hundred members of the Hindu Boudhha Christian Oikya Parishad on Saturday staged countrywide day-long hunger strike while it promised to wage a tougher campaign against retention of Islam as the State religion.

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