Mamata challenges BJP to amend secular Indian Constitution

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Kolkata, Jan 30: Amid the raging controversy over alleged conversion by Hindu outfits in Birbhum district in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today threatened to take "strong action" against those promoting forcible conversion and launched a veiled attack on the BJP, challenging it to amend the secular Indian Constitution.

"Indian Constitution is a secular Constitution. Some people are trying to carry out forcible conversions by giving money. Why should someone force others to covert? Who gave them that responsibility? the chief minister wanted to know.

mamata

"We shall take strong action. Law will take its own course, she said. "Some people are saying this religion is good, that is bad. Don't ride the rickshaw pulled by a man of this religion... etc.", she said at a state government programme for people belonging to minority community.

"Those who want to delete the word 'secular' from the Constitution should bring an amendment... even that will be defeated," she said days after BJP ally Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut demanded “permanent deletion” of the words “secular” and “socialist” from the preamble to the Constitution.

"If you have enough courage, amend the Constitution first before taking any such move like forcible conversion. When you are in power, you must follow good governance. Secularism is enshrined in the Constitution," she said.

"They are controlling people; they don't know when you are in power you must practice good governance first. Good governance doesn't mean controlling others. You can't control anybody's rights. I am ready to sacrifice my life but I will not discriminate people based on their religion," she said.

"Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains - everyone is part of this country. Every one has the right to practise his or her religion".

Police complaints, several of them under non-bailable sections, were filed on Jaunary 29 against VHP leaders Pravin Togadia and Jugal Kishore for allegedly making hate speeches in two different programmes at Rampurhat in Birbhum district on January 28.

"There is no use intimidating me. I was, is and will always be with the people. If anyone tries to incite violence between religions, law will take its own course. We will not spare anyone," We will not allow communal violence in Bengal," the chief minister said. "We are in a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. This is written in our Constitution. Nobody is allowed to forcibly convert people here," Mamata said.

PTI

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