Prime Minister Narendra Modi described any atrocity on anyone as “a blot on all of us” Tuesday, his speech in the Rajya Sabha coming while the subject of intolerance continued to dominate both Houses of Parliament.
“If there is any incident of atrocity against anybody, it is a blot on all of us, for the society as well as the nation. We should feel the pain and take this to ensure such things do not happen,” Modi said in his 40-minute speech that closed the special discussion on the Constitution. “Nobody can raise questions over patriotism of the 125 crore citizens of the country. Nobody needs to give certificate of patriotism every now and then.”
Stressing India’s “ekta mantra”, Modi said it is necessary to find “reasons to unite” in the midst of many excuses for division in such a diverse country. Sambhaav (equality) and mambaav (compassion) are both necessary for the country to progress, he added.
On the thought behind celebrating Constitution Day, Modi said, “We should make our future generations aware of the Constitution, the circumstances in which it was framed, and the contribution of our founding fathers and their farsightedness,” Modi said. Stressing the Constitution is not about laws alone but a social document, Modi said, “In a democratic country like India, if there is any source of guidance, it is the Constitution. It is a source of inspiration for us, our guide to move ahead even in difficult circumstances.”
With several Bills stuck in the Upper House where the NDA does not have the numbers, Modi called for a bipartisan approach and said the country could not move forward if there was constant bickering.
“I give more importance to Rajya Sabha, the house of elders. There cannot be any discussion where there are no elders and the Rajya Sabha has its own unique role,” he said. He quoted Gopalaswami Ayyangar, a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee and leader of the Rajya Sabha, to stress that in case of a dispute on money bills, the view of the Lower House will prevail.
Stating that the Constituent Assembly’s greatness lay in being able to achieve consensus while framing the Constitution, Modi said,“We make laws and if two words are left out, we have to amend them. The main reason is that we don’t always think from the point of view of the Constitution. That is why we sometimes succumb to political compulsions, and view things through the prism of politics. Don’t you think there was pressure on the members of the Constituent Assembly?… Pandit Nehru had said to make our Constitution effective, there should be mutual cooperation between both Houses. The country is looking at us; we have responsibilities and duties towards the nation.”
He said he was contemplating a new scheme ‘Ek Bharat, Shresht Bharat’ to foster the spirit of national unity among states. “Suppose Chhattisgarh organises a Kerala Mahotsav in 2016. Maybe 100 easy sentences in Malayalam sentences are taught (to schoolchildren), or a Malayalam film festival is held in Chhattisgarh. One state links with another state for a year.”
He suggested that students across states be encouraged to learn and sing popular songs, such as as Vaishnava Jana To, which have a connect across the country.
The government having faced stiff resistance to changes in the land bill, which it says is essential for industrial growth, Modi invoked B R Ambedkar. “Ambedkar used to say there should be industrialisation in the country to provide employment to the oppressed, Dalits and OBCs.” He added there was no other way for Dalits to find employment opportunities as they don’t own land, and that Ambedkar believed that without a serious campaign for industrialisation, agriculture cannot be made profitable.