A controversy erupted on Wednesday, 20 September, with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary flagging the absence of the words “secular” and “socialist” in the Preamble in the copies of the Constitution given to lawmakers on the opening day of the new Parliament building.
However, Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said the copies carried the original version of the Preamble of the Constitution and that these words were added to it after Constitutional amendments.
“This is as per the original Preamble. Amendments were made later,” he asserted.
The words “secular” and “socialist” were included in the preamble following the 42nd amendment in 1976, during the time of the Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Terming the matter as serious, Chowdhury said the words have been “cleverly removed” and expressed doubts over the intentions of the BJP government.
“The Preamble of the Constitution in the copy we carried to the new building does not include ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’. They have been cleverly removed… this is a serious matter and we will raise this issue,” he told reporters.
“For me, this is a serious issue. I doubt their intentions as their heart does not seem clear on this,” he said, adding that he was aware the words were added in 1976.
The Congress Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha also said that if someone gives a copy of the Constitution today, it should carry the version of it as of today.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad said that it was an attempt to deliberately tamper with the Constitution and demanded legal action against those responsible.
“The absence of the words “socialist, secular” in English copies of the Preamble of the Constitution distributed to the MPs yesterday (Tuesday) is deliberate attempt by the BJP to tamper with the Constitution, ” he wrote on X.
“Any change to the Constitution is no less than a crime. Once an amendment is notified, the old Constitution should cease to be printed. Immediate action should be initiated against people responsible,” he added.
The absence of the words "socialist, secular" in English copies of the preamble of the Constitution distributed to the MPs yesterday is deliberate attempt by the BJP to temper with the Constitution.
Any change to the Constitution is no less than a crime. Once an amendment is… pic.twitter.com/HYLIRi3pqP
— Rizwan Arshad (@ArshadRizwan) September 20, 2023
‘BJP exposed its intentions’
Congress leader KC Venugopal told reporters that the BJP exposed its real intentions by giving out the copy.
“All the amendments made to the Constitution are to be reflected in the Preamble. However, the BJP avoiding the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ from the Preamble shows the mindset of the party that they don’t believe in it,” he added.
Binoy Viswam of the CPI termed the omission of the words a “crime”.
Meanwhile, the supporters of the BJP and the NDA were of the opinion that since the words were not in the original Constitution, it should be restored and the copies were right.
‘Biased mindset of the BJP’
The NCP on Wednesday charged that the alleged deletion of the words “socialist” and “secular” from the Preamble showed the “biased mindset” of the ruling BJP.
In a statement, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party’s spokesperson Clyde Crasto said, “The BJP government says that this printed text was the original Preamble. If BJP does not want to respect the constitutional amendment of the Preamble and wants to follow the original, then why have they moved out from the original ‘Temple of Democracy’, the old Parliament building? Why did they not stay in the original one?”
Removing the words “socialist” and “secular” is truly a display of the BJP’s biased mindset, he alleged.
“The BJP should stop fooling the people of India with their absurd replies because people know what they are trying to really achieve,” Crasto said.
(With PTI inputs)