This Article is From Nov 26, 2015

'Secular' Most Misused Word in India: Rajnath Singh's Remarks Spark Row

New Delhi: Union minister Rajnath Singh sparred with the opposition Congress today over the word "secularism" during a special discussion in Parliament on the Constitution as the winter session began.

"Secularism is the most misused word in the country...This must stop. Because of the rampant misuse of the word, there have been instances of tension in society," Mr Singh said, taking on the Congress, which has come to Parliament this session prepped to attack the government over what it calls "growing intolerance."

Initiating the special two-day discussion, Mr Singh contended that BR Ambedkar, considered the principle architect of the Constitution, did not believe it was necessary to include the words "secular" and "socialist" - added later to the Preamble in the Congress regime of Indira Gandhi - as "these are values core to the Indian ethos."

There were loud protests from the Congress, whose Mallikarjun Kharge 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 then."

Mr Singh's argument that the word secular translates in Hindi not to "Dharam Nirpeksh" or non-religious but "Panth Nirpeksh" or non-sectarian, too has drawn counter-attacks from Congress and other opposition leaders.

"Whoever you are and whatever faith you practice, you are respected by the government of India. Splitting hair on the word secularism is mere wordplay," said Shashi Tharoor of the Congress outside Parliament,

The Left's Sitaram Yechury said, "The Home Minister's speech shows the real agenda, why this government wanted a Constitution Day. They want a Hindu Rashtra as the RSS never accepted secular."

He pointed out that "all our official parliament bills that are translated in Hindi use the term dharm nirpeksh."

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 criticize."

It was clear that battle-lines are firmly drawn for the session when soon after Mr Singh's speech, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi alleged, "we have seen in the past few months, a total violation of the values of the constitution."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will intervene in the discussion.