Politics

Nehru Did Not Want 'Secular', 'Socialist' in Preamble Due to Lack of Consensus: Jairam

Nehru Did Not Want 'Secular', 'Socialist' in Preamble Due to Lack of Consensus: Jairam

New Delhi: The words 'socialist' and 'secular' did not make it to the Preamble of the Constitution as Jawaharlal Nehru felt that there was no consensus on these issues at that time, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday.

The words came into the Preamble as part of the 42nd amendment in 1976, he said.

It was V K Krishna Menon who drafted the Preamble that is being recited across the country in recent times, Ramesh said, in an apparent reference to the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests as part of which people read out the Preamble.

He was speaking during a discussion at the Observer Research Foundation here on his new book 'Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives Of Krishna Menon'. Ramesh said Nehru, India's first prime minister, had asked Menon to "go a little slow" on 'socialist' and 'secular', but that does not mean that they were not socialist and secular.

His remarks assume significance as some right-wing groups have often objected to the insertion of these two words into the Preamble by the Indira Gandhi government, saying it was done for appeasement politics.

Asked why socialism did not find a mention in the Preamble despite both Nehru and Menon being inspired by it, Ramesh said the reason "why Nehru does not want secular and socialism (in the Preamble) is because he feels that there is not enough of a consensus on both these issues, that there are divergent points of view."

"It is interesting in 1947, Nehru was telling Krishna Menon, 'go easy on these two words', we know we are... remember Hindu Mahasabha was in the first Cabinet.

"There was Syama Prasad Mookerjee, it was an all-party cabinet. So Nehru was a little slow on this but that doesn't mean they were not sociaist or secular," the Rajya Sabha member said.

Talking about the 1962 conflict with China, Ramesh said both Menon and Nehru were portrayed as villains after the war, but truth is far more complex.

He said Menon had asked for raising of the defence budget earlier, but finance minister Morarji Desai had refused, saying it would betray the beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi.

He said why Nehru did not intervene between the two ministers was because he believed in letting the ministers run their ministries.

"Nehru was not authoritarian, but authoritative," Ramesh said.

He said both Nehru and Menon made mistakes but holding them solely responsible for the 1962 debacle would be simplistic.