As the Parliament reconvened for the Winter Session on Thursday, Lok Sabha held special discussion on the adoption of the Constitution of India on the occasion of 125 birth anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar. The Government has declared November 26 as the ‘Constitution Day’. Meanwhile, the Upper House was adjourned for the day as a mark of respect to sitting member Khekiho Zhimomi of Nagaland People’s Front, who passed away this morning.
Paying tributes to the founding fathers of the Constitution, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan stressed that individual rights and freedom are sacrosanct and criticism and dissent are part and parcel of the country’s democracy.
“India has a liberal polity that ensures the trinity of ‘liberty, equality and justice’ as central to the scheme of governance in demoracy,” the Lok Sabha Speaker said adding, “criticism and dissent, especially through the media and intellectual discourse, are vibrant and are part and parcel of our democracy.”
“Our parliamentary democracy has been able to ensure peaceful co-existence and progress of all communities, irrespective of castes, creeds, religions and languages,” she added before opening the floor for special discussion.
Starting the discussion, Union Home minister Rajnath Singh said, “People used to say there are any fault lines and it will break loose if any tragedy happens. To keep India unified, the binding substance was our Constitution.”
Paying rich tributes to Dr. BR Ambedkar, who was the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution, the Union Home minister called him the “binding force” of the country.
“Dr BR Ambedkar had to go through tiraskaar apmaan and kataaksh. Yet he controlled his emotion and put forward an objective point of view for India,” he said adding, “He was supportive of equal rights for all and against untouchability. Reservation was a socio-political necessity in this direction.”
The lower house also saw bit of a passionate exchange between the Opposition and the ruling side over the subject of the inclusion of the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ in the Constitution.
“Our founding father of the Constitution said that the Preamble is the spirit of the constitution and it should not be changed… but the 42Amendment in which Socialist and Secular worlds were inserted,” said Rajnath Singh, which immediately drew a counter from the Opposition.
“The words that were added in the 42nd Amendment, you have a problem with that. Dr Ambedkar wanted to add these words, but he was not allowed to do so under the circumstances then. Hindu Code Bill he wanted to bring, but it was opposed. Do you want me to tell you who opposed it?,” Congress party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said to Rajnath Singh to which the latter added, “If Babasaheb Ambedkar wanted to add the two words, he could easily have done it then”.
“He didn’t add these words possibly because he used to believe that they are already an integral part of India,” Rajnath Singh added.
Soon after, Congress party President Sonia Gandhi stood up criticising the incumbent BJP-led NDA government on issue of intolerance alleging that ideals and principles of the Constitution are under threat.
“Today is a day of joy, but it is sad as well. Sad because the principles of the Constitution that guided us for decades is in danger… Danger looms over them. Whatever is being witnessed in the past few months is totally against the principles of the Constitution,” Sonia Gandhi said. Sharpening her criticism, she asserted “People who never had faith in the Constitution, nor had they participated in its drafting, are now swearing by it.”
(With inputs from the PTI/Agencies)