This Article is From Nov 27, 2015

Rajnath Singh's 'Secular Most Misused Word' Remark Sparks Row: 10 Developments

Rajnath Singh's 'Secular Most Misused Word' Remark Sparks Row: 10 Developments

Home Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The Winter Session of Parliament got off to a stormy start on Thursday as a special discussion on Constitution got underway in Lok Sabha. Sparks flew as Home Minister Rajnath Singh called "secularism" the "most misused" word in politics. Congress President Sonia Gandhi hit back, saying people who never had faith in the Constitution are now swearing by it.

Following are the 10 developments in this story:

  1. The two-day special sitting is meant to celebrate Constitution Day, a tribute to BR Ambedkar, widely regarded as the architect of the Indian constitution. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended the session, will speak on Friday.

  2. "Because of the rampant misuse of the word (secularism), there have been instances of tension in the society," Rajnath Singh said taking on the Congress, which is prepped to attack the government over what it calls "growing intolerance" in this session.

  3. The Home Minister also said BR Ambedkar had never thought of putting the term 'secularism' in the Preamble as it was "in-built in the Indian system". The words were incorporated through an amendment in 1976.

  4. Attacking the BJP, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said "there cannot be a bigger joke" than those "who never had faith in the Constitution nor had they participated in its drafting, are now swearing by it and are laying claim to it."

  5. Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha, argued that Dr Ambedkar was in favour of adding the words to the Preamble when the Constitution was drafted, but could not do so because "the atmosphere was not right."

  6. Rajnath Singh's argument that the word secular translates in Hindi not to "Dharam Nirpeksh" or non-religious but "Panth Nirpeksh" or non-sectarian, drew fire from the leaders of the Congress and other opposition parties. Speaking to reporters, Congress' Shashi Tharoor said the Minister was "splitting hair" focusing on wordplay, not substance".

  7. Outside Parliament, the Left's Sitaram Yechury said, "Rajnath Singh has made it clear that secularism and socialism, which were added (to the Preamble) as an amendment, should be removed. And then they (BJP) have to prepare ground to establish RSS' Hindu Rashtra in place of the constitutional system. This is their main aim."

  8. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, "The nation knows who has subverted the Constitution for personal reason or who has amended it by putting people behind bars. It is the history of the Congress.  They have no moral right to criticise."

  9. Mallikarjun Kharge managed to get the ruling BJP members worked up by saying "any attempt to review the Constitution could result in grave consequences." His exact words, a reference to a retaliation, were expunged after Venkaiah Naidu called it an attempt to "threaten" the government.

  10. A united opposition, out to corner the government on what it calls "growing intolerance", wants Parliament to adopt a resolution on it after a discussion. The government -- focused on pushing crucial bills including the Goods and Services Tax bill -- has said it is ready to discuss all issues "including that of the so-called intolerance though it falls in the domain of states."

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