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RS disrupted over Hegde's 'amend Constitution' remarks, govt disowns comments

RS disrupted over Hegdes amend Constitution remarks, govt disowns comments

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha was on Wednesday repeatedly adjourned over Minister of State Anant Kumar Hegde's "amend the Constitution" remarks as the Modi government distanced itself from the comments.

Hegde had on Monday criticised the word "secular" and said the BJP government would "amend the Constitution" to remove the word from the Preamble.

The upper house was first adjourned soon after it met for the day. The second adjournment was made till 2 p.m. minutes after it met at noon as despite the government disowning Hegde's comments the din continued.

Opposition members vociferously raised the Hegde issue after a four-day break amid continued logjam over Congress' demand for an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad lashed out at the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party and said if any person lacked faith in the Indian Constitution, he did not deserve to be in the House or in the government.

"The Minister has no trust in the Constitution and has no right to be the Minister. He has no right to be a Member of Parliament either," Azad said.

The Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship at a function in Kukanur in Karnataka on Monday urged people to "claim with pride that they are Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin, or a Hindu" and said: "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.

"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 soon."

The Opposition sought a discussion over the issue.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu denied the request but allowed the Opposition members to briefly make a mention about it in the Zero Hour.

Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal said Hegde had abused the Constitution and "insulted" its architect B.R. Ambedkar.

"It is like abusing the Constitution. Can anyone remain Minister by abusing the Constitution? It is an insult to Babasaheb Ambedkar," Agarwal said.

The ruling BJP members took objections to Agarwal unnecessarily dragging Ambedkar into the row. They also protested, triggering slogans from the Opposition.

Naidu then adjourned the House till 12 p.m.

As the House was reconvened, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said that the Modi government was committed to the Constitution of India and it did "not agree with the Minister's (Hegde's) remarks".

However, the opposition members still continued their loud protests and again came near the Chairman's podium.

"When the Parliamentary Affairs Minister says that the government does not agree with (what Minister Hegde said), the matter ends there," Naidu told the protesting members, urging them to go back to their seats before adjourning the House till 2 p.m.

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