A government advertisement for Republic Day published in newspapers omitted the words “socialist, secular” in the image of the Preamble to the Constitution, triggering uproar and signature campaigns over social media platforms on Tuesday.
The alleged faux pas in the advertisement printed on January 26 came to light a day before US President Barack Obama said at a public event in Delhi that upholding religious freedom was the responsibility of the Indian government.
“The controversy surrounding the ad is uncalled for. Photo of original Preamble was a way of honouring founding fathers of the Constitution,” tweeted minister of state for information and broadcasting (IB) Rajyavardhan Rathore.
The Preamble reads: “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic…”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hailed the Constitution as the nation’s holy book, but the two missing words in the official ad have kicked up a controversy at a time when there are concerns about growing religious intolerance in the country.
Congress leader and former IB minister Manish Tewari attacked the Centre on the issue, saying the government advertisement deleted the two words and this was only a prelude to their substitution with “communal” and “corporate”.
“A democracy can’t succeed without people’s participation,” says the ad, a Republic Day message, quoting Modi.
It also depicts people wearing traditional Indian attire and carries the full Preamble of the original 1950 constitution in the background.
However, the words “socialist” and “secular” — added to the Preamble by the 42nd constitutional amendment act of 1976 — are missing.
Analysts said with the Centre making land acquisition easier under public-private-partnership mode and Bharatiya Janata Party state governments like Rajasthan and perhaps even Maharashtra moving towards labour reforms — lifting the protection of labour laws for a larger number of enterprises — the exclusion of the word “socialist” could also be considered controversial.