Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today denied in Lok Sabha that he had ever sought a debate on the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the Constitution’s preamble, an issue which had triggered a controversy.
Raising the issue as a matter of personal clarification, he asked Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who had raised the issue, to withdraw his statement.
The Chief Whip of Congress had said in the Lower House on February 24 that Prasad had called for a debate on the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’, which were included in the Constitution by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He had said such a statement from a minister was “condemnable”.
“What I had said in the press conference was that the Congress should debate whether Jawaharlal Nehru was secular or not as he and leaders like Maulana Azad and Sardar Patel did not include the word ‘secular’ in the Constitution,” Prasad said.
He said he was not seeking an apology from Scindia but he must take back his words and the media had mostly reported the matter.
Opposition had raised a hue and cry over the issue, while the government had ruled out any proposal to remove the two words.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour on February 24, Scindia had said, “Ravi Shankar Prasad (Minister) recently sought a debate on the Preamble. Shiv Sena also supported him. Supreme Court had said several times that these (words) are an inviolable part of the Constitution.”
He had also said that this, coupled with events like ‘ghar wapsi’ showed the true face of the Modi government.