New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The winter session of the Indian Parliament opened last week with a tribute to the 125th anniversary of the birth of B.R. Ambedkar,, one of the founding fathers of the nation. Today focus is on the theme of intolerance, with opposition parties who have planned a series of discussions in both chambers of the Assembly.
The winter session of the Parliament began on 26 November and the first two days were dedicated to celebrations for the anniversary of the Constitution and to remember its main architect Ambedkar, who in 1949 headed the commission that approved the fundamental law.
As of now, the debate has focused on the issue of growing intolerance in the country, following the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri and the repeated objections of prominent intellectuals who denounce the climate of violence and return prestigious awards.
Last week even some Bollywood stars joined the protests, in particular the actor Aamir Khan who expressed concern about the attacks on minorities. The intervention of one of the icons of Indian cinema also triggered the reaction of some BJP political leaders (Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party), who urged him to leave the country if "he is not satisfied with the environment in which he lives ".
The comments have fueled an already tense atmosphere, with political leaders of opposing factions hurling mutual accusations of intolerance. Rajnath Singh, Union Minister of Interior, speaking at the opening of parliament said: "The word most abused in the country is 'secularism'. It must stop. Because the rampant abuse of the word has led to incidents of tension in society. " And then he added that Ambedkar "did not think it necessary to add the terms 'secularism' and 'socialism' in the Constitution [inserted only in 1976 - ed] because these belong to the Indian spirit."
The Interior Minister’s words provoked the fury of the opposition - led by the Congress - that has timetabled talks and discussions in both the Lok Sabha (lower house) and the Rajya Sabha (upper house). Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress, said: "In recent months we have witnessed a total violation of constitutional values."
Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews: "Rather than focus on the crucial role played by Ambedkar in the drafting of the Constitution, the Minister of India has decided to start a discussion of the term 'secularism'. Politicians of the government are making sectarian statements. Bhimrao Ambedkar is the architect of the Constitution and fought against social marginalization and worked relentlessly to eliminate the evil in society and raise the conditions of the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. "
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed)