Sitaram Yechury | 2 DECEMBER, 2015

What is this Constitution Day Sir…?

President Rajendra Prasad (in the horse-drawn carriage) readies to take part

“But remember, Ambedkar did not leave the country. He was a patriot. But, Ambedkar renounced Hinduism and embraced Buddhism.”This is a short excerpt from a brilliant speech by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury in the Rajya Sabha.

This govt's statistics itself, on the Dalits, since 2014, ever since this govt has come to power, show that atrocities on them have gone up by 19%. In 2015, we have seen how in places like Faridabad and Ahmednagar, the atrocities have been committed against Dalits.

So, what we wanted was enactments of all the legislationon the basis of which we can carry forward the vision of social justice that Dr. Ambedkar stood for. Now, instead, we have a situation where the Government has come forward saying that we reaffirm our faith in the Constitution.

Where is the question of reaffirming? You are here, I am here, and all of us are here on an oath on this Constitution. What is this drama of reaffirming? If the Constitution is not there, then, you won't be here. The Government of the day must know, the Leader of the House -- he is not here now -- should know that they are there only because we affirm this Constitution. What is this question of now saying, "We will reaffirm"? And what is this Constitution Day, Sir?....

Go through the history. On 26th of November this Constitution was signed by the President of the Constituent Assembly. It was voted upon and the draft was adopted and in the draft you have said explicitly 'that on the 26th of January India shall be a Republic in 1950 when this draft will turn into a Constitution and we shall enact.'

Can this Government answer? I want our esteemed lawyer, the Leader of the House, to tell us what law governed India from 26th of November, 1949 to 26th of January, 1950? Was it this Constitution? Is it known, Sir? The law that governed India during those two months after you adopted this Constitution was India Independence Act, 1947 moved by the British Prime Minister Attlee in the House of Commons in London.

What is this Constitution then? You were under the British law for these two months. You adopted and enacted this Constitution on the 26th of January. Now, what is this new thing that you are finding now 65 years later on the Constitution Foundation Day? You please explain to me,

Sir. You are sitting on the Chair. Maybe, you have greater knowledge, but you please explain to me that when Dr. Ambedkar himself says that on 26th of January we are enacting this Constitution and we shall be a Republic, what is this 26th November? Yes, that day the Constituent Assembly adopted this draft, but that was not the Indian Constitution yet. That was not the law of our land yet. It became the law of the land on the 26th of January, 1950.

Lawyers are talking like this, Sir, on the Constitution Foundation day! You want some day or the other to find yourself so that you can celebrate one more event. The Constituent Assembly met again on the 24th and 25th of January, 1950. The Jana Gana Mana as the National Anthem was adopted on the 24th of January and on the 24th and 25th all Members of the Constituent Assembly signed this Constitution and on the 26th of November only 15 out of the 395 clauses in our Constitution came into operation. Sir, 26th of January, 1950 was when the entire Constitution came into operation.

So, what is this new item that we have, Sir? ...(Interruptions)... You may call it item song or whatever. It is a new item now in the Indian Constitution. A senior leader of the ruling party has described our Prime Minister, charitable or uncharitable, I don't know, it is up to their party to decide, he called him an excellent event manager. One event after another, London and after that Malaysia, after that Asia and after that Constitution Day and from tomorrow it will be Paris. They showed us an old film in my youth, "Paris ke range shyam". That will be the event from tomorrow.

So, what is this event to event to event? What are we observing, Sir? I am sorry, but I think the entire, what in Hindi we call, garima of this House, of the Parliament is being undermined by these sorts of flippant events that are coming in.

Yes, for 26th of November we have the highest respect for Dr. Ambedkar and for everybody else. Does this Government today know that Constituent Assembly began its work on a Resolution moved by Shri Jawaharlal Nehru called the 'Objectives Resolution'? Does this Government know that out of the eleven sittings of the Constituent Assembly six of the sittings were devoted to the 'Objectives Resolution' and not to this draft? A majority of the discussions in the Constituent Assembly was on the objectives put forward by Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. Sir, that is our history. Yes, the victor always scripts the history.

But, here, the victor is also trying to change the past history! Now, this is the history we have inherited. Like the hon. Leader of the House, I was also born after Independence. I think, many of us are born after Independence. And, for all of us, this is inherited history; this is our legacy. You cannot now tamper with that history and tell us a new history! Now, why this Constitution Day? I can only come to the conclusion that this is an attempt to try and worm their way into the national movement when they had no role to play at all. This is the way they want to worm themselves into the national movement and how they want to worm themselves I want to know.

How this order is given? Sir, it is a Gazette Notification saying that 'it has been decided to celebrate 26th day of November every year as the Constitution Day.' It is a Gazette Notification. If you want I will place it on the Table of the House. It is a notification in the Indian Gazette, dated 19th November. It is issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Does the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment decide a national day to be observed every year?

Hon. HRD Minister was a good friend of mine before she became a Minister. After that she does not have time and she has got very onerous responsibilities. But, I just want to know how the Gazette Notification comes on 19th and the HRD Ministry issues a circular to schools on 10th of November saying 'observe 26th November as the Constitution Day.'

This is a Gazette issued on 19th. What is happening, Sir. Items in Indian politics. That is the only thing I can say -- events. You have event management. You want to worm into the national movement when you had no role. Here, I wish to put it on record the fact that often we have heard and we will hear also, I am sure, in the course of this discussion, the role of Communists, etc., in the Freedom Struggle. That is an old charge...

The British Bombay Home Department, in 1942, during the Quit India Movement observed, "The Sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law and in particular has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August, 1942." ..(Interruptions).. This is the record of the British Government. Now, Tarunji made a charge against the Communists. .Sir, in 1992, there was a special session at midnight in Central Hall, to mark 50 years of the Quit India Movement in 1942. In that session, President Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma said this about Communists,, which is available on record here. I quote:

"After large scale strikes in mills in Kanpur, Jamshedpur and Ahmedabad, a despatch from Delhi dated September 5, 1942, to the Secretary of State, in London, reported about the Communist Party of India: 'the behaviour of many of CPI members proves what has always been clear, namely, that it is composed of anti-British revolutionaries.'"

This is the President of India telling this in the Central Hall of Indian Parliament.

...[In Hindi]. He read out Article 44 of the Constitution, Sir, which deals with it. I have the copy of the Constitution and this is the copy that belongs to the Chamber. So you cannot accuse me of any personal or fudged copy.

It says, 'the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code.' It was quoted. It was also quoted on the question of organisation of agricultural and animal husbandry. I pointed out then that these are Directive Principles of State Policy, which are not justifiable and enforceable, and these Directive Principles also have other things, Sir, which are not quoted. What do they say? They say, 'the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people.'

What did Babasaheb Ambedkar say? The same thing; that is Article 46. Article 47 says, 'the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living.' Isn't it a shame that today, the largest number of children malnourished, are in India? Isn't it a shame that majority of the stunted children in the world are from India, today? This is the Constitutional Directive, Article 47.

What has been done? You only pick and choose what you want to do and that is where the suspicion comes as to what is your actual motive. Here in the section on Fundamental Duties that are supposed to be enforceable -- you please look at your copy in your hand, Sir -- Article 51A says, 'it shall be the duty of every citizen of India.' If you read Article 51A (f), it says, 'to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.' Is it the composite culture that we are preserving, Sir? I will come to that again.

What does 51A(h) say? It says, 'to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.' Sir, if we hear that Lord Ganesha was the creation of plastic surgery or Karna in the Mahabharata was the creation of stent technology and test tube babies, is that scientific temper? And it comes from no less than hon. Prime Minister.

What is happening? What are you implementing? What are you wanting to implement and what not? You are only reviving the hardcore Hindutva agenda. Cow protection, you are wanting to revive. Then the entire question of equality of all citizens to liberty in life. He has quoted Article 30. He is not here, unfortunately, so I cannot request him also. He has quoted this Article 30 -- you can also help me, Sir, in finding that Clause -- and said that these are contradicted by Articles 29 and 30. Article 15 says, 'the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.' This is Article 15, Fundamental Rights.

He says, "Articles 29 and 30 are in contradiction". Sir, any lawyer would know, any right always comes with what is called reasonable restrictions. I hope, Mr. Parasaran is here; there is no right which does not come without reasonable restrictions. The reasonable restrictions through Article 15 have been detailed in Articles of the Constitution, 29 and 20, where the rights of the minorities to their religion are given. Minorities here meaning not only religious but also linguistic minorities.

So, it is said, "This is a contradiction. Don't we want to remove it?" What would Dr. Ambedkar say today if you were talking about this contradiction, about this Constitution? He would say precisely the same thing that the duties of a citizen would be the spread of tolerance, and not the spread of any one particular intolerant point of view. And that is the bone of contention today,

Sir. I read in the media that hon. Home Minister saying that secularism is the word that was injected into the Constitution, and, therefore, that is the cause of all problems. He has also referred to, I believe, poor old Aamir Khan; our actor is getting lampooned. He said, "Ambedkar did not leave the country. But he stayed here and struggled". And that is what Aamir Khan also said, Sir. He did not say that he is leaving. I am glad he is staying and struggling, and then you accuse them saying that Left is sponsoring all that. Thank you for putting all those people with us. Our tribe is increasing. That is what you are doing. ...(Interruptions)... But remember, Ambedkar did not leave the country. He was a patriot. But, Ambedkar renounced Hinduism and embraced Buddhism.