(G.N.S.) Dt. 27
Opposition MPs troop the Well as Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu is in the Chair when Rajya Sabha reconvened after Chirstmas holidays on Wednesday. Loud opposition protests erupted in parliament today over the comments of Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde, who has controversially said that his party, the ruling BJP, will “soon change the Constitution,” which mentions the word “secular.” As the opposition demanded Mr Hegde’s sacking, Union minister Vijay Goel stated in the Rajya Sabha that the government disassociated itself from his views. Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde’s comments on secularism raised a ruckus in both Houses, with the Lok Sabha being adjourned almost as soon as the House reconvened.
Mr. Hegde is expected to clarify his statement. Sources say he has given an explanation to his party leaders. The Lok Sabha adjourned soon after starting the day and slogan shouting paralysed the Rajya Sabha as the opposition demanded action against Mr Hedge, accusing him of denigrating Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the constitution.
Anant Kumar Hegde Hegde, known for making controversial comments, has been in a series of rows. Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad said if a person didn’t believe in the constitution, “he has no right” to be a member of parliament.
House reconvenes and is adjourned again till 2 p.m. Speaker is in the Chair. Matters of urgent public importance are taken up now. But Opposition MPs shout slogans again. Mallikarjun Kharge condemns the treatment received by Kubhushan Jadhav’s family. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister says she will give a statement to the House tomorrow on this.
Protests forced the house to adjourn for nearly an hour. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, usually in the Lok Sabha on Wednesdays for questions related to the PM’s office, was not present as he was attending the oath taking ceremony in Himachal Pradesh.
House reconvenes, Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu is in the Chair. Opposition MPs raise the issue of Mr. Hegde’s comments. Ruckus ensues. Members troop to the Well shouting slogans.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is in the Chair. Slogan shouting begins almost immediately. Opposition MPs raise slogans pertaining to the treatment of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family in Pakistan. House is adjourned till noon.
In the Rajya Sabha, opposition members gathered around Chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s chair and shouted slogans of: “Baba Saheb ka yeh apmaan nahin chalega (this insult of Babasaheb will not do).”
Hegde deriding Constitution: Congress
Asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence on the comments made by his ministerial colleague Ananth Kumar Hegde about changing the Constitution, the Congress on Tuesday said the Minister’s comments reflected the “sinister design of the RSS and the BJP to impose their ideology on the people of India”.
The party raised other controversial comments made by BJP Ministers including one by Hansraj Ahir, Minister of State for Home Affairs, about doctors. At a press conference, Congress spokespersons Gaurav Gogoi and Khusboo Sundar said that while the BJP propagated their love for Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to garner votes, Ministers in the Modi government were denigrating the Constitution drafted by him and openly talking about changing it.
“It is diametrically opposite to the liberal and inclusive traditions of India and the progressive thoughts of Babasaheb Ambedkar and the makers of Modern India. Therefore we take strong exception to this remark,” Mr. Gogoi said.
Mr Hegde, 49, was speaking at a function in Karnataka when he urged people to “claim with pride that they are Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin, or a Hindu,” and added, “Those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don’t have their own identity…They don’t know about their parentage, but they are intellectuals.”
He also said, “Some people say the Constitution says secular and you must accept it. We will respect the Constitution, but the Constitution has changed several times and it will change in the future too. We are here to change the Constitution and we’ll change it.”
Mr Hegde is the Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. He has been a Lok Sabha lawmaker from the Uttara Kannada constituency for five terms.
The BJP has distanced itself from Mr Hegde’s comments. “The party (BJP) doesn’t want to get involved with what Hegde has said. What he spoke about is not an issue for us,” BJP spokesperson for Karnataka, Vamanacharya, was quoted as telling.
The Congress also raised the issue of Mr. Ahir allegedly comparing doctors to Naxals, and called it “an insult to medical profession”.
“Taking a cue from his seniors in the Modi government, another Cabinet Minister in the BJP government of Uttar Pradesh, Prakash Rajbharhas, insulted Dalits and the downtrodden by saying that poor vote because of alcohol and chicken,” Mr. Gogoi said.
The party attacked the BJP-ruled States for their “failure” to stop the rising crimes against women. Quoting National Crime Records Bureau statistics, Ms. Sundar said Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra topped the chart in rape and abduction of women.
Citing the rape of a 15-year-old girl in Muzaffarnagar at gunpoint on Sunday, Ms. Sundar said, “Prime Minister Modi always begins his speeches by saying brothers and sisters but has not been able to protect the sisters. Maybe he should stop this practice [addressing the women as sisters] as he has failed to perform the duty of a brother who protects the dignity of women.”