On the 70th anniversary of India’s Republic Day, many politicians including the Communist Party of India’s chief Sitaram Yechury took to Twitter to convey their greetings to the Nation. However, his message has had a subtle underlying tone implying that the government is not preserving the sanctity of the Constitution which was enacted on 26th January 1950 and in the process, ended up lying and misrepresenting facts.
69 years ago, we declared ourselves a Sovereign, Socialist and Secular Republic. We must preserve its treasures, which is all of its citizens; irrespective of what they eat, which caste they hail from, their gender or who they pray to, or don’t. Greetings on Republic Day. pic.twitter.com/fnBp146KYm
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) January 26, 2019
The CPI(M) chief in his tweet claimed that India, through its Constitution declared itself Sovereign, Socialist, and Secular 69 years ago. This is partially true. India declared itself Sovereign but Socialist and Secular were not mentioned in the initial Preamble of the Constitution. The original constitution of India as it stood in 1949 and formed under the auspices of Dr Rajendra Prasad and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar can be read here.
It clearly declares India as “SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC”. Staying loyal to his communist roots, Yechury cleverly drops ‘DEMOCRATIC’ from his tweet. The version of the constitution that Yechury refers to in the above tweet is the 42nd amendment to the constitution, also known as The Constitution Act, that was enacted during the Emergency by the Indian National Congress government headed by Indira Gandhi.
Regarded as the most controversial constitutional amendment in Indian history, the 42nd amendment attempted to reduce the authority of the Supreme Court and High Courts to pronounce upon the constitutional validity of laws. It laid down the Fundamental Duties of Indian citizens to the nation. This amendment brought about the most widespread changes to the Constitution in its history, and is sometimes referred to as “mini-Constitution” or the “Constitution of Indira”.
The tendentious amendment to include ‘Secular’ and ‘Socialist’ in the Preamble was a unilateral decision by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government since most of the opposition MPs were incarcerated during the Emergency and the amendment was passed without a debate in the parliament.
So when Sitaram Yechury says that this was the constitution enacted 69 years ago, he is simply lying. The amended constitution, he is referring to, came into effect on 3 January 1977. While citing the constitution enacted during the Emergency, Sitaram Yechury also wittingly or unwittingly endorses brazen trampling of the constitutional procedures to enact one’s conceived amendments to the constitution without seeking the opposition’s approval.
It is a bit ironical then that Sitaram Yechury calls for preserving the sanctity of an amended constitution which has been altered about 100 times, mostly under the Congress regime. If Yechury truly intends to preserve the sanctity of the constitution, he should demand the government to restore the constitution to its initial version which was a brainchild of intellectual stalwarts like Dr Rajendra Prasad and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and who were evidently against the inclusion of ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ in the Preamble to the constitution.
In fact, Sitaram Yechury’s CPI(M) is itself not true to the lofty ideal of Secularism. There have been numerous murders of RSS and BJP workers in the CPI(M) bastion of Kerala. If this is not enough, the Kerala Communist chief derisively mocked the deaths of RSS workers, exhorting them to join CPI(M), provided if they remain alive. The communists are also accused of embracing a heavy-handed approach against the peaceful Hindu devotees of Lord Ayyappa opposing the court order regarding the Sabarimala shrine while giving a free pass to Christian padres accused of raping nuns to embellish their ‘Secular’ credentials.
Sitaram Yechury, on the other hand, betrays the symptoms of suffering from cognitive dissonance when he censures the Modi government on following constitutional procedures to legislate laws and policies and ensure law and order. Yechury has often called Modi government fascist and raised the cries of ‘Undeclared Emergency’ to send the country into a frenzy, just because the Modi cabinet’s decisions were perceived unfavourable by him. It then addles the reader whether he supports the Indira Gandhi’s unlawfully amended constitution he cited above or condemns it that controversially added ‘Secular’ and ‘Socialist’ in the constitution. So one cannot help but wonder if Sitaram Yechury really holds the constitution pristine and sacrosanct or just an instrument of political expediency to further his vicious politics.