Oppn stalls Parliament over Hegde's remarks

Oppn stalls Parliament over Hegde's remarks

The Centre on Wednesday distanced itself from Minister of State for Skill Development Anant Kumar Hegde's statement that the BJP will "soon change the Constitution," which mentions the word "secular."

Demanding Hegde's dismissal, the Opposition staged loud protests in Parliament disrupting both Houses.

Though Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said in the Raja Sabha that the government does not subscribe to Hegde's statement, the Opposition remained unconvinced.

The leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said if a person does not believe in the Constitution, then "he has no right" to be a member of Parliament.

The Upper House was adjourned twice, while Lower House was adjourned four times.

Raising the issue in the Lower House, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said, quoting Hegde, that the minister compared those supporting secularism to "children of unknown parentage", besides denigrating Dr B R Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that Kharge is trying to distort what Hegde had said.

"B R Ambedkar is the father of the Constitution and we respect him. We request the Opposition to not disrupt the proceedings," Kumar said, accusing the Congress of indulging in "pseudo-secularism".

Trouble erupted in the Rajya Sabha after the Opposition members began shouting "shame, shame" when Hegde rose to lay the papers listed against his name.

Azad sought a clarification from the minister as he could leave the House soon after laying the papers.

But Hegde sat in the House for a few minutes, watching the protests, and then left the House.

As Rajya Sabha members, including those from the Congress, SP and CPI, expressed their anger, with many of them rushing into the Well, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had to adjourn the house twice till 12 noon.

When the house assembled again, Goel said, "Members have expressed concerns to which we would like to emphasise that the government is committed to the Constitution. The minister has given a statement but we do not subscribe to those views."

As opposition members continued their protest, the House was adjourned till 2 pm.

Speaking to reporters, Azad said Hegde should either apologise or Prime Minister Narendra Modi should take a call on whether such a person should continue as a minister.

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