Uproar in Parliament over Hegde's remarks, Modi government distances itself

Union Minister of State for Skill Development Anantkumar Hegde. DH

Union Minister of State for Skill Development Anantkumar Hegde. DH

As the House was reconvened, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said that the Modi government was committed to the Constitution of India and it did "not agree with the Minister's (Hegde's) remarks".

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan then urged the member to apologise.

Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde on Thursday said if someone was hurt by his remarks about changing the Constitution and about secularism, he had no hesitation in tendering his apology.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, however, objected to Hegde's clarification and said that he had spoken against Ambedkar. As opposition members continued their noisy protest and demanded a discussion on the issue, Naidu said no discussion can take place without a proper notice. "They don't know about their parentage". He, however, did not comment on Hegde's remarks or try to defend him.

Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal said Hegde had abused the Constitution and "insulted" its architect B.R. Ambedkar.

"The Minister has no trust in the Constitution and has no right to be the Minister".

"The Congress is indulging in pseudo-secularism".

"Hegde has clarified in Lok Sabha that his remarks were twisted and he respects Baba Saheb Ambedkar". At this, Naidu interjected to ask members not to bring Babasaheb Ambedkar into the controversy.

Hegde had urged people to "claim with pride that they are Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin or a Hindu", and said: "Those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don't have their own identity.They don't know about their parentage, but they are intellectuals". Yes, the Constitution has given that right to say "we are secular". but Constitution has been amended many times, we will also amend it. A senior Congress leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the party would press for a debate on the harassment of the wife and mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav, on death row over espionage and terrorism charges in Pakistan, during their visit to that country.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to make a statement on the Jadav episode in Parliament tomorrow.

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