As special session of the Parliament continues to function from the new building, a controversy has sparked an outrage on social media after Indian National Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged on Tuesday, 29 September, that the copy of the Constitution distributed to the Members of Parliaments did not have the words 'socialist' and 'secular' in its Preamble.
On being asked about the same, former Congress chief, Sonia Gandhi said, "In the preamble it (the words 'socialist secular') were not there," ANI reported.
“The new copies of the Constitution that were given to us today (19 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 ANI.
He further alleged that the government made this change very "cleverly" and that their intentions were "problematic." Chowdhury said that he wanted to raise the issue in Parliament but he didn't get the chance to do so.
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 as it was believed to reassure the nation that minorities would be safe and the elite class would not dominate the economy.
'Copies As Per Original Preamble': Law Minister
However, Union Minister of Law and Justice of India Arjun Ram Meghwal said the copies carried the original version of the Preamble of the Constitution since these words were added later to it after constitutional amendments.
"This is as per the original Preamble. Amendments were made later," he asserted, new agency PTI reported.
Chowdhury had added, "For me this is a serious issue. I doubt their intentions as their heart does not seem to be clear on this."
Terming it an "unnecessary controversy," BJP MP Sushil Modi said, "It was not said that this is the amended copy. This was the original copy when the Constitution was accepted. It did not have the words 'socialist, secular' in it...Does 'socialist' have any relevance now?"
Congress MP KC Venugopal also stated, "How can it be? What's there in their mind is reflected through their actions. Now the Preamble and the Constitution have been amended. The most important words Socialist, Secular were avoided in the Preamble. It is clearly the message that the Government is giving... It is totally unfortunate."
Binoy Viswam of the CPI-M termed the omission of the words as a "crime." Several Opposition MPs are likely to raise the matter at their meeting.
Besides the copy of the Constitution, MPs were also given books related to the Parliament, a commemorative coin and a stamp on the opening day of the new Parliament building on 19 September, on the second day of the special Parliament session.
The new Parliament complex was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 28 May.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court will hear on 23 September, a petition filed by former BJP MP Dr Subramanian Swamy, seeking the removal of the words “socialist” and “secular” from the preamble of the Indian Constitution, Live Law had reported on 1 September.