NDA ally Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) on Thursday expressed shock over the central government’s view that there was “no harm” in debating the Preamble of the Constitution, and asked it to instead focus on developing India.
“Socialism and secularism are the fundamental identities of this country and should continue to be so forever. The words should continue and no one in India should think of changing them. Debates in this regard are unnecessary,” party founder S Ramadoss said.
Two days after a Republic Day advertisement issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting showed the Preamble page of the Constitution without the words “socialist” and “secular”, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday 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.”
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. On Thursday, Ramadoss took strong exception to the statements by both the Sena MP and the union Minister.
“Shiv Sena’s demand for dropping the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ from the Preamble to the Constitution and union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s statement that it should be debated is shocking,” Ramadoss said, and wondered whether the use of an image of the original Preamble in the ad was a “planned affair”.
The PMK, which has one MP in the Lok Sabha (Anbumani Ramadoss, Dharmapuri) is the first NDA ally to join the opposition protests against the use of the image. Last month, when asked by the Tamil Nadu BJP to not criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ramadoss had said that the PM was not above criticism.
On Thursday, Ramadoss reminded Modi that the people had trusted him, and believed his development slogans before the Lok Sabha elections. “I insist that (the Centre should) avoid such unwanted controversies and focus more on development activities,” he said.