An advertisement released by the Information and Broadcasting ministry on January 26 2015, has caused a controversy as the image of the preamble in the ad's background is seen without the words 'secular' and 'socialist'.
Congress leader and former Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari attacked the Centre on the issue, claiming the government advertisement "deleted" the two words, which was only a prelude to their "substitution" with "communal" and "corporate".
Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore, however, was quick to dismiss the charge, saying his ministry had only used an "original" picture of the Preamble as it appeared before the Amendment, to "honour" the first Preamble.
The Union Minister also claimed that the same picture had been used in an advertisement by the I&B Ministry in April 2014. Tewari had helmed the ministry at that time.
"Let me assure you, we are celebrating the 66th Republic Day, that is, we are celebrating an anniversary of the Preamble that was made way back then. The photograph that we have put is of the first Preamble that our great leaders had made at that point of time," Rathore said.
"Are we to say that the governments before 1976 were not secular? That's not the point. We were secular we will always be secular. We are honouring the first Preamble, hence this picture for the advertisement," Rathore said.
Twitterati have reacted to the ad, mostly expressing displeasure with the government:
Const-India Sovereign Secular Socialist Democratic Republic Govt Ad deletesSecular&Socialist Prelude to substitution with Communal&Corporate— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) January 27, 2015
Pl sign petition - Shocking Govt ad on R-Day that cut 'secular' & 'socialist' from Preamble of Constitution of India http://t.co/RM7nhwLsZD— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) January 27, 2015
Wow. Is this real? IB Ministry photoshopping the constitution for 26th January ad? http://t.co/myTlhnPetr— MrMrRajneesh (@MrMrRajneesh) January 27, 2015
The words 'secular' and 'socialist' were missing in I&B ministry's republic day ad that displays the preamble of the constitution. How come?— Stanly Johny (@johnstanly) January 27, 2015
While some have explained how the original preamble actually did not include these words and that 'secular', 'socialist' and 'integrity' were added to the Preamble in 1976 by the then government:
This is the original Preamble. The words ‘Socialist’ and 'Secular' were added in 1976. pic.twitter.com/18g4buUF9F— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) January 27, 2015
The controversy surrounding the ad is uncalled for. Photo of original Preamble was a way of honouring founding fathers of the Constitution— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) January 27, 2015
Incidentally, the same picture was used in official advertisements earlier also— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) January 27, 2015
Outrage 2day is omission of Secular & Socialist 4m an I&B ad-Dear Prized idiots it was original handwritten as attchd pic.twitter.com/vzydnRoANz— Vijay (@centerofright) January 27, 2015
Meanwhile, indiaresists.com has launched an online petition condemning the 'mischievious government ad', urging social media users to protest against the ad. The petition says:
"At the time when the people of India, and even the global community, have genuine apprehensions about the secular character of the Indian democracy, which stands threatened by a right-wing government formed with less than one-third of the popular votes, this omission is utterly condemnable."
(With inputs from PTI)