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Leaders must protect secular identity of India: Manmohan Singh

The senior Congress leader said that it is necessary to “remind ourselves that the framers of the Constitution in their wisdom had conceived this secular order as part of a larger, greater egalitarian polity”.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2018 22:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Manmohan Singh,Armed Forces,Election Commission
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh delivers the 'A B Bardhan Memorial Lecture' in New Delhi on September 25.(AP Photo)

The Indian Constitution’s secular commitments have to be ultimately defended by the political leadership, civil society and other sections of the society, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the second AB Bardhan memorial lecture, organised in the memory of the late Community Party of India (CPI) leader, Singh termed the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a traumatic event that brought “disrepute to our secular commitments”, and said that it is necessary to “remind ourselves that the framers of the Constitution in their wisdom had conceived this secular order as part of a larger, greater egalitarian polity”.

The former PM delved into the years of framing of the Indian Constitution and pointed out that, in the backdrop of the unhappy memories of the Partition and the havoc caused by Fascist ideologies in Europe, the country was “painfully conscious, more than ever, of the need to avoid the trap of any kind of racial or religious superiority in the Constitutional scheme. A secular promise, and a rejection of communal arguments, had been very much at the heart of our national discourse.”

The timing of these remarks by Singh assume significance as the Congress and other opposition parties have often accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of disturbing the secular fabric of India even as the BJP has accused the Opposition of playing vote-bank politics.

Singh not only invoked former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, but also spoke about how icons such as Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, Maulana Azad and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel supported Nerhu’s idea of secularism.

In the speech, Singh, who ran the first coalition government that completed two terms, praised Left leaders such as Bardhan, D Raja and Sitaram Yechury for helping in the formation of the United Progressive Alliance government.

First Published: Sep 25, 2018 21:37 IST