On the occasion of Constitution Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a joint session of Parliament on Tuesday.
"Constitution is based on the twin philosophy of dignity and unity. Two mantras of Constitution are 'dignity for Indians' and 'unity for India' It held supreme the dignity of our citizens while keeping the Unity of India intact and that it keeps us aware not only of our rights but also of our duties. The relation and balance between the rights and duties were very well understood by the Father of our Nation Mahatma Gandhi. Let us think about how we can fulfill the duties enshrined in our Constitution, let us think about how our actions will make our nation even stronger" he said.
Constitution Day is celebrated on November 26 to mark the adoption of the Constitution of India on the same day in 1949.
The Prime Minister took the MPs back in time to seven decades ago, when the Constitution was being formed, and its every clause discussed and debated.
"Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pandit Nehru, Acharya Kriplani, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and several other senior leaders debated, discussed and gave us this heritage. Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, in his last discourse on the Constitution on the 25th of November 1949 reminded the people that in the past we have lost both our freedom and the republic nature of the country owing to our own mistakes. Ambedkar warned the people and asked them if the country can now uphold its freedom and its democracy. Had Ambedkar been alive today, he would have probably been the happiest. Not only India upheld its virtues but strengthened its democracy and freedom," the Prime Minister said.
Speaking on the occasion, President Ram Nath Kovind added, "This is the first time we are celebrating the 'Constitution Day' in the Central Hall, with the participation of members of both Houses of Parliament. It is a privilege for all of us to witness and participate in this historic event. It was in 2015, the 125th birth anniversary year of Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar that the Government of India decided to celebrate November 26, as 'Constitution Day' every year."
Kovind also spoke about the General Elections that took place this year and applauded the high rate of participation. .
"Over 610 million people cast their vote in this election. The participation of women voters was almost equal to that of men. The election of 78 women members to 17th Lok Sabha, being the highest number of women members ever elected to this house, is a glorious achievement for our democracy," he said.
He added that now, all members of the 'Standing Committee of Parliament on Empowerment of Women' are women MPs. This, he said, signifies an important social and political change reflective of a bright future over the last 70 years.
Kovind also emphasised on "Constitutional Morality".
"All the three organs of the State, persons gracing the constitutional posts, members of the civil society and common citizens of India are expected to abide by 'Constitutional Morality'. In our country, constitutional avenues are available to address all kinds of situations that we may face. Therefore, whatever we do, we must first ponder whether our action is in conformity with constitutional boundaries, dignity and morality," he reminded the Parliament.
26/11 however, is no longer just Constitution Day. Eleven years ago, the terror attacks in Mumbai took place on the same date.
Recalling the 4-day attack which left many dead Modi said, "Today s also a day that causes pain when on 26th November in Mumbai terrorists have tried to destroy the thousands of years of rich philosophy of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (One World One Family).”
Not everyone however was happy to celebrate Constitution Day. Congress leaders abstained from the celebrations and boycotted the joint sitting of parliament, called by the Modi government.
Led by congress interim party president Sonia Gandhi, the party members read the Preamble of the Constitution before Ambedkar’s statue on the parliament premises.
"Opposition parties will not take part in the Constitution Day programme in parliament today. The decision has been taken because government is bypassing the constitution. In the latest situation in Maharashtra, they are disrespecting Indian constitution," Congress MP K. Suresh said earlier.
Congress MP Hussain Dalwai has given suspension of business notice in Rajya Sabha under rule 267 over government formation in Maharashtra by unconstitutional means.
At the protest, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh read out the Preamble, while opposition MPs stood with placards and banners, which read "stop murder of democracy" "save our constitution" and "constitution in crisis".
Rahul Gandhi, Anand Sharma, Adheer Ranjan Chaudhary were in attendance, as was Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant who recently resigned from the Modi cabinet.
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