BJP vows to protect secularism
The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies today assured Parliament that the secular fabric, as enshrined in the Constitution, would be protected and promoted by their coalition government while initiating projects and programmes for the welfare of the people.
Ruling party members, participating in the debate in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on motion of thanks to President K R Narayanan for his address to the joint session of Parliament on March 25, tried to remove the apprehensions from the minds of the Opposition that 'secularism as a way of life would not be honoured by the new coalition government'.
No government at the Centre and in the states could imagine
ruling with the support of one or two communities ignoring the
minorities in a multi- religious and multi lingual country like
India, former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar
said moving the motion for the approval of the Lok Sabha.
In his maiden speech, Shanta Kumar said the BJP and its allies
were committed to set up a commission to review the Constitution. While reviewing the Constitution, its basic features, including secularism, would not not be changed. The commission's purpose would be to point out the defects and how to overcome them, he added.
Defending the national agenda, he said the government would endeavour to provide basic requirements like drinking water, shelter, education and health to all citizens and end gender inequality in five years.
Former Lok Sabha speaker Balram Jakhar (Congress), the first to
speak from the Opposition benches, said the President's address was full of 'hollow promises' which could not be fulfilled.
A former Union agriculture minister, Jakhar said the farming community had made substantial progress during the Congress regime. He was apprehensive whether the new government
would be able to honour its commitment of providing insurance cover to all the farmers.
Seconding the motion, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazagham's Vaiko hailed the government's intention to set up a commission to study the feasibility of giving official language status to all the 18 national languages. He also justified the government's decision to set up a commission to review the Constitution.
Moving the motion in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP's Sundar Singh Bhandari said the government should review how it could give more administrative and financial powers to the states.
The government would remain committed to democratically tackle the problem of terrorism, he said.
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