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Govt. under attack for Sangh-speak

The first full day of the Budget Session of Parliament on Tuesday saw the Opposition again take on the government for divisive remarks emanating from the Sangh Parivar, including some Ministers and MPs.

The latest addition to the mix of objectionable statements was RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remark that Nobel laureate Mother Teresa’s charity work was aimed at converting the poor to Christianity. Though Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress sought to raise it in the Lok Sabha during a zero hour mention on the controversy over dropping the words ‘socialist, secular’ from the Preamble to the Constitution, it was disallowed by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

As Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu sprung up to respond, she asked him why he was bringing the issue on record.

Through the din, the Minister could be heard saying the government has nothing to do with such statements. “Private persons have a right to speak outside.”

On the Preamble issue, he said there was no proposal to remove the words ‘socialist, secular.’ Speculation has been rife on a move to amend the Preamble after the government used a watermark of the original Preamble in two Republic Day print advertisements. The words ‘socialist, secular’ were introduced through the 42nd amendment in 1976.

While the zero hour mention on secularism was capped with the Minister’s assurance and the Speaker’s intervention, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge brought it up again during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President for his address.

Referring to the component on religious tolerance in the President’s address and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance to the minorities last week, Mr. Kharge wondered why it took the Prime Minister so long to break his silence. “Had you given this assurance in Parliament during the winter session, the nation would not have felt so unsettled by the divisive remarks, the government would not have had to promulgate so many ordinances, and U.S. President would not have reminded India about the guarantees enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution.”

Outside Parliament, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad defended Mr. Bhagwat, saying he had only echoed what Mother Teresa had herself said.

“Once while protesting in Jantar Mantar to demand reservation for Dalit Christians, she said there is nothing objective in the world. We also run hospitals and orphanages but no one has been asked to convert; her work should be investigated,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 9:48:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-under-attack-for-sanghspeak/article6929922.ece

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