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Preamble row: Differences surface, RSS silent

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Govt. committed to secularism, says Venkaiah Naidu

A day after Union Telecommunications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad indicated that the Government wanted a debate on whether the words “socialist, secular” should be in the Preamble to the Constitution, another Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said there was no plan to remove them.

According to a PTI report from Chennai, Mr. Naidu said the Government was “committed to secularism and there is no thinking to remove” it from the Preamble.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Naidu added that “secularism is in the blood of Indians and it’s a part of our culture.”

Meanwhile, the RSS has chosen to steer clear of the debate triggered by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry using a watermark of the original Preamble — which did not have the words “socialist, secular” — in two Republic Day print advertisements. “We don’t think this deserves any comment from the RSS; we don’t think those who are debating this issue have any depth or right intentions; so it’s better that we don’t speak at this time,” said a senior RSS functionary.

Reacting to Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad seizing upon Shiv Sena’s demand for dropping the two words “ Secular and socialist” from the Preamble to call for a debate, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said: “Mr. Prasad’s open defence of Shiv Sena’s demand is proof positive that the BJP is using ally shoulder to fire gun and test waters.”

Referring to the rather heated debate triggered by the advertisements, Mr. Singhvi noted that it was “fatally wrong to suggest omission of the two words shows they are not basic’’ to the Constitution. The “1976 amendment only codifies what is inherent.” he tweeted.

Critical of Mr. Prasad’s call for a debate on the two words, the Communist Party of India said: “secularism symbolises the character of our state while socialism symbolises the goal India has to achieve.”

Of the view that the advertisement was part of the “Government’s conspiracy to wipe out secularism in India’’, the CPI noted that the BJP has now come out with its real intention of creating a communal divide in India.

On Wednesday, Mr. Prasad had told reporters that “we do not need these two words to be a secular country; even without them we are secular.” Also, he saw no harm in debating whether these two words should remain in the Preamble; pointing out that they were a legacy of the Emergency and not included at the time the Constitution came into force. He had also indicated that the Government planned to continue using the original Preamble for official purposes.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2017 5:14:12 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/preamble-row-differences-surface-rss-silent/article6836234.ece