Congress claims ‘socialist and secular’ removed from new copies of Constitution

Congress claims ‘socialist and secular’ removed from new copies of Constitution

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  • September 20, 2023
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Congress leader and Lok Sabha leader of Opposition Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has claimed that the new copies of the Constitution that were distributed to the MPs in the new Parliament building have no presence of words like “socialist and secular”, mentioned in India’s preamble.

“The new copies of the Constitution that were given to us today (19th September), the one we held in our hands and entered (the new Parliament building), its Preamble doesn’t have the words ‘socialist secular’. We know that the words were added after an amendment in 1976 but if someone gives us the Constitution today and it doesn’t have those words, it is a matter of concern”, Chowdhury told news agency ANI.

Chowdhury is doubtful about the government’s intention. He said, “Their intention is suspicious. It has been done cleverly. It is a matter of concern for me. I tried to raise this issue but I did not get an opportunity to raise this issue”.

The terms ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were inserted into the preamble as part of the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976 during the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The words secular and socialist were added to reassure the nation that minorities would be safe and the moneyed class would not dominate the economy.

Also read: Women’s Reservation Bill tabled; debate erupts over implementation timeline

Why did Nehru drop Secularism and Indira Gandhi insert it?

India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and the Architect of the Indian Constitution BR Ambedkar both were strongly committed to the ideal of secularism. Yet, when it came to including ‘secular’ both were wary of its usage.

They fully know the truest meaning of the term but could not be applied in the Indian context. Avoiding the inclusion of secularism in India’s preamble Ambedkar said, “What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself because that is destroying democracy altogether”.

“It is an ideal to be aimed at and every one of us whether we are Hindus or Muslims, Sikhs or Christians, whatever we are, none of us can say in his heart of hearts that he has no prejudice and no taint of communalism in his mind or heart,” Nehru’s thoughts on secularism.

The Constituent Assembly adopted Articles 25, 26, and 27 of the Constitution but did not formally insert ‘secularism’ in the document. The word was embedded in the constitutional philosophy.

On 26 June 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi announced on the All India Radio that “the president has proclaimed Emergency.” A 20-page long detailed document gave unprecedented powers to the Parliament. Almost all parts of the Constitution, including the preamble, were changed. The description of India in the preamble was changed from a “sovereign, democratic republic’ to a ‘sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.”

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Updated: 20 Sep 2023, 10:10 AM IST

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