MUMBAI - A day after a row erupted over a Republic Day advertisement of Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Shiv Sena today demanded "permanent deletion" of the words 'secular' and 'socialist' from the Constitution.
An acrimonious war of words had broken out between political parties yesterday when an advertisement issued by the I&B Ministry carried a picture of the Preamble to the Constitution as it appeared before the 42nd Amendment, without the words 'secular' and 'socialist'.
"We welcome the exclusion of the (secular and socialist) words from the Republic Day advertisement. Though it might have been done inadvertently, it is like honouring the feelings of the people of India. If these words were deleted by mistake this time, they should be deleted from the Constitution permanently," Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
"From the time they (the words) were included in the Constitution, it is being said that this country can never be secular. Balasaheb Thackeray and before him Veer Savarkar had been saying that India was divided on the lines of religion. Pakistan was created for Muslims, thus, what remains is a Hindu Rashtra," Raut said.
The minority community has been used only for political gains, while "Hindus are being continuously disrespected," he alleged. "It is nowhere written in the Constitution that you mete out such treatment to Hindus and use Muslims to garner votes," he said.
"This mistake on the part of the government has happened only because destiny wants this to happen. Modi is the Prime Minister of India, and his thoughts on Hindutva are strong," the Sena leader said.
Yesterday, Congress leader Manish Tewari had attacked the Centre on the issue, claiming the government advertisement "deleted" the two words, which was only a prelude to their "substitution" with "communal" and "corporate".
Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore, however, was quick to dismiss the charge, saying his ministry had only used an "original" picture of the Preamble as it appeared before the Amendment, to "honour" the first Preamble.
The Union Minister also claimed that the same picture had been used in an advertisement by the I&B Ministry in April 2014. Tewari had helmed the ministry at that time. The advertisement showed a picture of the Preamble in the background with a quote from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pictures of some citizens in the foreground.
"Constitution-India Sovereign Secular Socialist Democratic Republic. Government Ad deletes Secular and Socialist Prelude to substitution with Communal and Corporate," Tewari alleged in a post on Twitter. "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," Rathore said.
He added that the two words - 'socialist' and 'secular' were included after the 42nd amendment in 1976. "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," Rathore said.