Bengaluru, Dec 26: At a time when the minority communities in the country are feeling threatened because of constant attacks and bullying against them by various right-wing groups, a minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet has suggested that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to remove the word "secular" from the Constitution.
On Sunday, while slamming those who claim themselves to be secular in the country, Union minister Ananth Kumar Hegde at a function in Kukanur town in Koppal district of Karnataka stated that he respects the Constitution but "it will be changed in the days to come". "We are here for that and that is why we have come."
The minister has again stoked a controversy, saying those who consider themselves secular and intellectuals do not have "their own identity" and they were also unaware of their parentage.
"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," the 49-year-old BJP minister said at the event organised by the Brahman Yuva Parishad.
He launched the Parishad's website and women's wing on Sunday. Urging people to identify with their religion or caste, Hegde said, "I will bow to you, you are aware of your blood. But if you claim to be secular, there arises a doubt about who you are."
Hegde added a new tradition was in vogue, where people project themselves as secular, but asserted he would feel "happy" if someone claims with pride that he is a Muslim, or a Christian, or a Lingayat, or a Brahmin, or a Hindu.
"I feel happy because he (the person) knows about his blood, but I don't know what to call those who claim themselves secular," the minister for skill development and entrepreneurship said.
Hegde, a five-time Lok Sabha member from Uttara Kannada, is no stranger to controversies. A case was registered against him for allegedly using derogatory language against Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah at Kittur in Belagavi district recently.
He had been slapped with cases for his "hate speeches", including one where he allegedly equated Islam with terrorism.
Hitting out at Hegde on Monday, CM Siddaramaiah said the minister has not studied the Constitution, does not know the parliamentary or political language. He said Hegde has not learnt the social system and added that people belonging to various religions live in India.
"Each and every individual in this country is an Indian, and every religion has equal right and opportunity. He does not have this basic knowledge," Siddaramaiah told reporters in Hubballi.
Now, it needs to be seen whether the ruling BJP government at the Centre would clarify whether Hedge's comment regarding removal of the word "secular" from the Constitution is a part of the saffron party's plan in the future or not.