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The term ‘secular’ has been misused in politics: Rajnath Singh

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New Delhi: A discussion in the Lok Sabha on Thursday on the Constitution and its chief architect B.R. Ambedkar went on a different trajectory as Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed “secular” the most misused word and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi hit back, accusing the government of deliberately attacking “the principles that inspired the country for decades”.

As the Lok Sabha, on the first day of the winter session, took up a discussion on commitment to the Constitution as a part of Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations, Rajnath Singh, initiating the debate, said that those who framed the Constitution would have introduced “socialist and secular” in it if they had felt it was required.

Taking veiled digs at the Congress, and even targeting actor Aamir Khan over his remarks on rising intolerance in the country, he said Ambedkar faced injustice and discrimination due to social inequities, but kept control over his feelings, and always presented an objective point of view.

“He (Ambedkar) never said how much he is being insulted in India. He said he will live in India for strengthening the country. He never thought he would go somewhere else,” he said, drawing protests from the opposition benches.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, however, ruled there was nothing objectionable.

The minister said Ambedkar was the “binding force” for the country while the country’s first home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was the “unifying force”. He also paid tribute to first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Noting the words “socialist and secular” were introduced in the Constitution through the 42nd amendment, he argued that if the Constitution-makers had felt their need, they would have included them in the Preamble.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge sought to counter Rajnath Singh, saying Ambedkar wanted to include these words in the Preamble, but did not do so in the prevailing atmosphere.

Rajnath Singh, however, retorted that Ambedkar felt that secularism was in the basic nature of Indians and there was no need to mention it separately.

“In today’s politics, if a word has been misused the maximum, it is secular,” he claimed, adding the secular’s formal translation was not “dharam nirpeksh” (neutral of religion) but “panth nirpeksh (neutral of faith)” and that the “misuse of some words” had not allowed the country to have the level of harmony that was sought to be built.

He also stressed that Ambedkar should not be seen just as a Dalit leader.

In her address, Gandhi targeted the government, asserting that the principles that inspired India for decades were facing a threat. She also said that the history of the Constitution is closely linked to the history of the Congress party.

“Whatever we have seen in the past few months, it is against the values of the Constitution.

“Today is a day of happiness, but there is also pain. The principles that inspired (us) for decades, a danger is lurking over them. They are being deliberately attacked.

“The people who have no faith in the Constitution, who have not contributed to its making, they are talking about it repeatedly, are trying to appropriate it. There cannot be a bigger joke,” she said.

Mahajan said the Constitution is an instrument for social, economic and political progress and individual rights were as important as the interest of the community, and parliamentary democracy provides for peaceful co-existence and progress of all communities without reference to caste, sect, religion and language.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the house when it took up the discussion.

The day is also being observed as the Constitution Day, commemorating acceptance of the draft statute on this day in 1949.

(IANS)

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Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Fall

Both in Delhi and Kolkata, diesel prices in the fortnight have declined

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Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Falls
Petrol Prices On The Reverse Trend For The Last 13 Days: Prices Falls, flickr

Domestic petrol prices, which had hit record levels for 16 consecutive days in May, have been on the reverse trend for the last 13 days, including Monday, but the relief for consumers has been slow in coming.

The pace of decline has been less than half the rate of surge.

Percentage-wise, since May 30, when prices started to take a downturn, petrol prices have slipped 2.35 per cent in Delhi, compared to the 5.5 per cent in the previous 16 days.

In absolute terms, prices have gone down by Rs 1.85 a litre since May 30, compared to the increase of Rs 3.8 per litre in the during May 14-29. On Monday, fuel was sold at Rs 76.58 per litre in the national capital, down 20 paise from Sunday’s level, the IndianOil Corp’s website showed.

In Mumbai, where petrol prices were the highest in the country last month, the decline has been much slow at Rs 1.23 per litre so far, against the rise of Rs 3.76 a litre during May 14-29.

On Monday, petrol price in Mumbai was Rs 84.41 per litre against Rs 84.61 on Sunday. Similarly, in Kolkata and Chennai, the fuel was sold at Rs 79.25 and Rs 79.48 respectively.

In Kolkata and Chennai too, the decline has been Rs 1.81 and Rs 1.65 per litre in the last 13 days, around 50 per cent of the previous rate of increase.

In tandem with petrol prices, diesel too has seen a decline, but of only around 2 per cent in all the major cities including Delhi, compared to over 5 per cent rise in the previous fortnight.

Petrol station
Petrol station, flickr

Both in Delhi and Kolkata, diesel prices in the last 13 days have declined by Rs 1.36, and in Mumbai and Kolkata, the fall was of Rs 1.44 and Rs 1.45 per litre respectively.

Also read: Petrol price slashes by 32 paise and diesel price by 85 paise

On Monday, prices of the fuel in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai were at Rs 67.95, Rs 70.50, Rs 72.35 and Rs 71.73 per litre, respectively. (IANS)