On a day the BJP-led government came under attack for one of its Republic Day advertisement using an image of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution without the words “socialist” and “secular”, officials said that “the new rendering of the Amendment is not available”.
The advertisement, which appeared in newspapers on January 26, issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, has a backdrop with the Preamble stating “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Democratic Republic.” The Preamble, which was changed through 42nd Amendment in 1976, reads “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic…”
Activists, who have taken on the government on social media, and the Congress demanded an explanation as well as action against the officials involved.
Officials, however, argued that the advertisement was not incorrect. “This ad is not incorrect. It is an artistic depiction of an original historical document as it is,” Press Information Bureau’s Director General Frank Noronha told The Indian Express. “I believe that the new rendering of the amendment is not available. Also, it has been used as a watermark to give an aesthetic sense to the design,” Noronha added.
Congress leader Manish Tewari said “stifling and trampling” with the Constitution is an “unforgivable sacrilege”. He said, “The Constitution of India, as it stands today, is very clear that India would be a ‘Sovereign Democratic Secular and Socialist Republic’. To remove the world ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ is actually is an undoing of the will of power as expressed through the 42nd Amendment.” The 42nd Amendment was enacted during the Emergency in 1976-77.
“It’s not only serious insidious. Action should be take against the officers involved and the minister should explain how it has happened,” he added.
Activist Kavita Krishnan has launched a signature campaign against what she termed as an attempt to “tamper the Constitution.” Krishnan posted on Twitter: “[Sic] Pl sign petition. Shocking Govt ad on R-Day that cut ‘secular’ & ‘socialist’ from Preamble of Constitution of India”
Clarifying, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said: “Let me assure you, we are celebrating the 66th Republic Day, that is, we are celebrating an anniversary of the Preamble that was made way back then. The photograph that we have put is of the first Preamble that our great leaders had made at that point of time.” Adding that “socialist” and “secular” were added in 1976, he said: “Are we to say that the governments before 1976 were not secular? That’s not the point. We were secular we will always be secular. We are honouring the first Preamble, hence this picture for the advertisement.”
Sources in the ministry said that the decision to use an image of the Preamble from the original Constitution was a “conscious” one. “It was a conscious decision. We are celebrating the original Constitution as it existed on the day it was signed. The ad is a reflection of that,” government sources said.