Govt-Opp row on Tolerance, Secularism cont on Day 2

SansadTV Bureau

Venkaiah-Naidu-Lok-SabhaExchange between the Treasury and Opposition continued on the day two of Special discussion on the Constitution on the floor of Lok Sabha. BJP-led central government dismissed the Opposition’s charge of a threat to the Constitution, citing the imposition of internal emergency by the Congress party as the incumbent sought to turn the tables on the latter.

“Today there is no threat to the Constitution, no Emergency… there are no arrests (of political rivals), no supercession of judges. We must work together to strengthen the Constitution,” Venkaiah Naidu said.

The Union Parliamentary Affairs minister also stressed that the term ‘secular’ will remain part of the Preamble of the Constitution. The lower house had witnessed passionate exchange between Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge Thursday over the subject of the inclusion of term ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ in the Constitution years after it was adopted. Sonia Gandhi had also targeted the government alleging that ideals and principles of the Constitution were under “threat” and being “attacked deliberately”.

Responding to the debate, Mr. Naidu said the word ‘secular’ is part of the Preamble “and will remain so. But what I want to say is that it should be in our hearts and should remain”.

At the same time, he added that those who followed “politics on the basis of caste and communal lines call others as anti secular.”

Shifting his focus on the hotly debated issue of “rising intolerance”, Venkaiah Naidu sought to disapprove the controversial remarks made by some of the leaders of the BJP and Sangh Parivar, while at the same time flaying Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar Aiyer over their controversial remarks in the Pakistan off late.

Opp-Lok-SabhaThis drew Congress’s reaction with its leader in the lower house, Mallikarjun Kharge saying that Aiyar is not a Congress Working Committee member and was a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha.

“Since he is not a Lok Sabha member, you should have refrained from taking his name,” said Kharge.

But Naidu was unrelenting. Referring to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the senior Union minister sought to know if she would condemn the remarks by the two leaders of her party. “I don’t think she has approved of the remarks,” he said.

Intervening, Sonia Gandhi questioned the government on the recent ‘dog’ remarks made by MoS External Affairs VK Singh. “What did your minister say,” she asked.

Lauding his government, Venkaiah Naidu continued with his attack on the Opposition, saying that some in the opposition have not been able to “tolerate” the verdict of the people in favour of BJP. “You see the reception he received at Maddison Square… it is not a reception for him, but for India,” Mr. Naidu said.

Soon after the BJP-Congress squabble on the floor of Lok Sabha, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav expressed concerns over the repeated amendments of the Constitution, claiming it is being done for “narrow gains”.

“No country in the world has amended their Constitution the way we did. Our Constitution was amended for the highest number of times, mostly for narrow gains,” he said demanding that the government make a statement in Parliament assuring that the Constitution would not be amended further.

Mulayam-Singh-Yadav-Lok-SabhaAdding further on his apprehensions, Mulayam Singh sought to know why government didn’t lent assurance that the quota system will not be reviewed, even though Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Thursday clarified that the reservation provided to the backward communities would not be abolished.

“The Prime Minister should make a statement that there would be no review of reservation as suggested by the RSS chief,” he said.

But the surprising feature of the Special discussion was PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, a constituent of ruling NDA, lashing out at those saying “go to Pakistan”, asserting that the “nation owns us and we own the nation”.

“To those who ask (Muslims) to go to Pakistan, I want to say that the nation owns us and we own the nation,” Ms Mufti said, while at the same time underlining that there is tolerance in India and compared the situation to countries like Pakistan and Syria where Muslims are killed but “one cannot even open the mouth”.

Lauding Dr. Ambedkar for his contribution in making the Constitution, she said unlike the present day politicians who think about next election, he thought about future generations while drafting the constitution.

Several other issues including, the Uniform Civil Code and Women’s Reservation Bill too were mentioned by the members during the Special debate on Constitution marking the 125th anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar.

(With inputs from the PTI)