New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday flayed the Narendra Modi government on the issue of intolerance during a debate in the Lok Sabha, saying that ideals and principles enshrined in the Indian constitution were “deliberately attacked”.
“People who have no faith in constitution, who have not contributed to its making, are talking about it repeatedly; want to appropriate it; are today debating commitment towards it… what can be a bigger joke than this,” Sonia Gandhi said.
“Whatever we have seen for the past few months, it is against the values enshrined in the constitution. The principles and ideals that have inspired us for decades, a danger is lurking over them today. They are being deliberately attacked,” she said during the debate on commitment to India’s constitution.
The house on Thursday held the discussion as part of celebrations of the 125th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, regarded as the chief architect of the constitution.
The Congress has persistently attacked the Modi government over the perceived “rising intolerance” in the country.
She said Ambedkar had cautioned that however good a constitution, if those who implement it were bad, it would turn out to be bad.
The Congress president spoke of Ambedkar’s role in the making of the constitution and recalled his words praising Congress contribution in the process.
“It was the discipline of the Congress that enabled the drafting committee to give definitive information about every clause and amendment before the constituent assembly,” Gandhi quoted Ambedkar as saying.
The Congress chief said: “It was the Congress which brought Ambedkar to the Constituent Assembly, recognising his unique talent and capability.”
As BJP members made some remarks, Gandhi quipped: “This is history. Do you have objection?”
There has been a feeling in the Congress that the ruling National Democratic Alliance is seeking to usurp the legacy of Ambedkar.
Gandhi said Ambedkar plunged himself in the freedom struggle for the cause of the scheduled castes and the oppressed after his education abroad in political theory and economy.
Referring to Ambedkar’s humility, she said he had expressed surprise on being chosen as the drafting committee chairman by saying there were more learned and better people than him in the Constituent Assembly.
She said that on the morning of November 26, 1949, when the draft constitution was formally adopted, former president Rajendra Prasad, who was then chairman of the Constituent Assembly, complimented Ambedkar.
There could not have been a better decision than keeping him in the drafting committee and making him its chairman, she quoted Rajendra Prasad as saying.
Sonia Gandhi also recalled the contribution of independent India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, saying he was among the four stalwarts who guided the proceedings of the constituent assembly.
She said there were eight main committees of the constituent assembly and these were either headed by Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel or Prasad. Gandhi said Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was a member of five of these committees.
She said Nehru presented the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly in 1946 which was unanimously adopted.
She recalled that Nehru, at the Karachi session of the Congress in 1931, had brought in a resolution on fundamental rights and economic policy which was later adopted.
Gandhi said the history of the constitution was old and linked to the country’s freedom struggle and to the Congress.
The Congress chief said the constitution reflected secular values, provided for participation of and pride to the weaker sections, made democracy more representative and government more accountable.
“The constitution, that we all respect, for whose protection we take oath, that has the imprint of best brains and great souls who take birth rarely,” she said.
She said constitution-making was a result of decades of struggle that began under Mahatma Gandhi and led to the freedom of the country.