Amid the row over a Republic Day advertisement issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting which showed the Preamble page of the Constitution without the words “socialist” and “secular”, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday that the government was “committed to secularism” and there was “no thinking to remove it” from the Preamble.
“Secularism is there in the blood of Indian people, that’s part of our culture. It was not there in the original Preamble and was inserted during Emergency. But the government advertisement was about the original Preamble. We are committed to secularism and we don’t have any idea to drop it,” said Naidu, who was in the city on Thursday to inaugurate a conference on ‘Tamil Nadu Smart Cities’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries.
Naidu’s statement comes a day after his Cabinet colleague, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said there was no “harm” in a debate on the issue. He said the image was of the “original”, pre-42nd Amendment Preamble, and “these two words were not there then”.
The Constituent Assembly had leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and B R Ambedkar, Prasad said. “Did Nehru have no understanding of secularism? These words were added during the Emergency. Now, what is the harm if there is a debate on it? We have put before the nation the original Preamble,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, the Shiv Sena, an NDA member and old BJP ally, had said the two words needed to be “deleted permanently” from the Constitution. The word “secular” is irrelevant in India, which is a “Hindu Rashtra”, Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said.
Meanwhile, replying to a question on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Naidu said: “It is done in the larger interest of the country… Unfortunately, the Congress is not ready to appreciate it, but the whole country is happy with the steps taken by Narendra Modi.”