A BJP member of the Rajya Sabha is set to move a resolution in the House on Friday, seeking the removal of the phrase “socialism” from the preamble of the Constitution, arguing that the word is “redundant” in the current scenario, and that the word should be dropped to create space for “economic thinking without a particular thought”.
The preamble of Constitution declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.
Rakesh Sinha has given a notice, seeking the Chairman’s permission to move the resolution to drop the word “socialist” on Friday during the time allotted for Private Members’ Bill, and his notice was admitted on Wednesday. A copy of every resolution which has been passed by the House is forwarded to the minister concerned and the minister can bring a law in the same line.
The terms “socialist” and “secular” had been inserted in the preamble later, to qualify the character of the Indian republic, as part of the 42nd amendment which was passed during the Emergency.
Many groups have sought to restore the original preamble. In 2015, controversy was sparked by a government advertisement on Republic Day, which featured the preamble with the words “secular” and “socialist” missing.
When Sinha was asked why he did not object to the word “secular”, he told The Indian Express, “There could be many views on the word secularism. Some may feel that it is still required, although secular character is entrenched in out culture, civilisation and in the deeds. But in the present socio-economic developmental context, socialism is completely a reduntant word.”
Pointing out that the word “socialist” was inserted in the Constitution by the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act, 1976, when the country was under Emergency and fundamental rights were suspended, Sinha said the move was made without any discussion or debate in Parliament.
“The word is not required at all because the Constituent Assembly had discussed it in detail and Dr B R Ambedkar had made it clear and the Assembly had agreed to settle the issue,” Sinha said
He said K T Shah had proposed the words “federal secular socialist Union of States, but Ambedkar had contested the proposal.
“Ambedkar had argued that the Constitution is just a mechanism to regulate the work of the various arms of the states, and that the matters like how the policy of the state and the society’s organisation in the social and economic side should be matters which must be decided by people according to the time and circumstances. He argued and won the argument that it should be left to people to decide,” Sinha said.
Ambedkar contested that the directive principles expect the state to be egalitarian and that the socialist principles were already embodied in the Constitution.
Sinha argued, “You cannot tie a generation to a particular way of thinking. Besides, the Congress party which ruled the country for seven decades has changed its direction from being socialist to welfare to neo-liberalism. Its new liberal policies adopted in the 1990s have negated its own earlier positions.”
According to him, it showed that there should always be a scope of evolution in the thinking process based on time and context, as well as on the requirement of people.
Another reason for Sinha to take a position that the word should be dropped from the preamble are the policies of the current dispensation, led by Narendra Modi.
“The Narendra Modi government with its number of initiatives has restored welfare politics… Orthodoxy is not applicable to vibrant society,” he said.
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