NEW DELHI, Nov 26 - The Winter session of Lok Sabha today began with an animated debate on the Constitution during which the government said the word �secularism� mentioned in it had been �misused�, while the Opposition, led by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, raked up the issue of �intolerance�.
Initiating discussion on �Commitment to India�s Constitution as part of 125th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar�, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the architect of the Constitution had never thought of putting the term �secularism� in the Preamble but it was incorporated through an amendment in 1976.
�The words �socialist� and �secular� were incorporated in the Preamble through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. We have no objection. Let bygone be bygone. Dr BR Ambedkar had never felt the necessity to incorporate it in the Preamble, as these two words were part of the Constitution. It is inbuilt in the Indian system,� he said amidst protests from Congress.
Singh objected to the use of Hindi word Dharma Nirpekshta, saying the literal translation of the secularism should be Panth Nirpekshta and it should be regularly used as it is the official Hindi translation of secularism.
�Secularism is the most misused word in the country. Its misuse should come to an end. Because of the rampant misuse of the word, there have been instances of tension in society,� he said in the packed House where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were present.
Singh said it was difficult to maintain social harmony because of the �rampant misuse� of the word secularism.
Gandhi, in turn, targeted the government over the issue of intolerance, alleging that ideals and principles of the Constitution are under threat and being attacked deliberately.
Several other opposition parties also raked up the intolerance issue, saying the untoward incidents witnessed in the recent past should be condemned as they send out �negative messages� and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the matter.
Gandhi hit out at the BJP government for organising the debate, saying �People who never had faith in the Constitution nor had they participated in its drafting, are now swearing by it and are laying claim to it. They are now having a discussion on commitment to it. There cannot be a bigger joke than this.�
Insisting that whatever being witnessed over the past few months was �totally against the principles� of the Constitution, she recalled Ambedkar�s warning to hit out at the ruling dispensation, as she sought to highlight the contribution of the Congress in the drafting of the Constitution and in the freedom struggle.
The Congress President said Ambedkar had observed that howsoever good a Constitution may be, if those implementing it were bad people, then the ultimate effect would only be bad.
At a time when BJP is seeking to appropriate the legacy of Ambedkar, Gandhi also utilised Ambedkar�s praise of the Congress for its contribution in the drafting of the Constitution, indicating that the Congress could lay the rightful claim on the document. � PTI