Amidst the debate on intolerance in the country, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in his address at the opening day of Parliament, opined that the word 'secular' was now a mis-used word. He was speaking on the opening day of the Winter session of Parliament, which was dedicated to the 125th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar, the architect of India's Constitution.
"Baba Saheb Ambedkar did not use the word 'secular' in the preamble. That's because India was panth-nirpeksh traditionally," he said "Dr Ambedkar never wanted to leave the country despite all the insults he faced." This was also a veiled barb at movie star Aamir Khan's recent remarks on intolerance. Khan. at a journalism-awards ceremony in Delhi, said, "When I chat with Kiran (his wife) at home, she says, 'should we move out of India?' That's a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is this sense of growing disquiet, there is growing despondency apart from alarm."
Speaking on the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that was started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh said that through this campaign the government has send the message that there are no 'menial jobs.'
"Wielding broom is considered as a menial job in our country, we all know how people who do this job are looked down upon. But, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has changed that," he added.
Weighing in on the occasion of Constitution Day, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said that there is "no doubt that the Constitution gave an equal voice to the poor and gave secular values to the country."
"The Constitution in itself may be bad, but if the people implementing it are good, then it becomes a good Constitution," she said in Lok Sabha.
Gandhi said that it's a 'sad day' because danger looms over the principles of the Constitution.
"The incidents in the past few months show that it is totally against the principles enshrined in the Constitution.The people who don't have faith in the constitution. The people who don't play any role in the forming of the Constitution are swearing by the Constitution. What can be a bigger joke than that? " she queried.
Meanwhile, indicating government's willingness to debate all issues in Parliament during the Winter session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there cannot be a bigger platform for dialogue than the floor of the House.
"There cannot be a bigger platform for a dialogue than the House. Debates, disputes and dialogues are the soul of Parliament. For other things, the entire country is available as an arena," he told reporters in Parliament House complex on day one of the month-long Winter session.
Referring to the all-party meeting held on Wednesday, Modi said he had a discussion with leaders of all political parties on the smooth running of the session
"I am happy that all political parties presented a positive outlook for dialogue and debates. I hope all the MPs will leave no stone unturned to live up to the expectations the country has from Parliament," Modi said.
While opposition wants a debate on the issue of tolerance, government has made it clear that it is willing to discuss every issue raised on the floor of the House. He suggested that Preamble of the Constitution should be studied by students and it should gradually become a part of people's day-to-day life. "It is our endeavour."
"It is fortunate that it is the year of B R Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary -- the man who played a key role in drafting the Constitution. The coincidence is inspiring. You must have seen the Parliament House complex lit up to mark the day. And I am confident that during the session, best thoughts, best discussion and best innovative ideas will light up the House," the PM said.
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