Opposition MPs on Friday protested in Rajya Sabha after Bharatiya Janata Party legislator KJ Alphons sought to introduce a Bill to amend the Preamble to the Constitution, reported Deccan Herald.
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021, seeks to replace the word “socialist” with “equitable”, among other changes. Alphons has argued that the the term “socialist” has “political connotations and carries a historical baggage which is not acceptable to a large section of India”.
Alphons, through the Bill, also wants the descriptions for equality and fraternity changed by enlarging its ambit and introducing “happiness, assuring a high gross domestic happiness” in the Preamble.
The Bill seeks to change the words “Equality of status and of opportunity” to “Equality of status and of opportunity to be born, to be fed, to be educated, to get a job and to be treated with dignity”, reported The Hindu. It also proposes adding “access to information technology” in the objectives of the Preamble.
On Friday, after Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh allowed the introduction of the Bill following a voice vote, Opposition MPs claimed that he ignored their “no-es” in rejection that were more prominent than the “ayes” in support.
Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha argued that the Bill needs the prior approval of the president before it is introduced.
Singh, however, said the Bill does not need the president’s consent to be introduced and that the House would decide on the matter.
Jha replied that the Bill concerns amendment to the Preamble, according to PTI. “Preamble is part of the basic structure of the Constitution,” he said. “Please do not do this.”
Alphons then sought permission to speak on the Bill but the chairperson refused.
“At this juncture, you are not allowed to discuss the Bill,” Singh said. “If anything is there, it is on the House to decide on this and not the chair.” He added that every MP has a right to introduce private members’ Bills.
“Amendment to Preamble is an attack on the edifice of the Constitution,” Jha argued. “Are we allowing this House to ransack everything?”
Some members from the treasury benches suggested that this has happened earlier also. To this, the RJD MP replied: “A bad precedent should not become a norm.”
As the argument continued, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan suggested Singh to reserve his decision. The chairperson agreed and reserved his decision.