External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday came under opposition attack in Rajya Sabha for demanding that the Bhagwad Gita be declared national scripture, with members saying this was a “sinister” design to alter secular character of the Constitution.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, D Raja (CPI) demanded that the House should disapprove her demand even as the Government sprang to Swaraj’s defence saying Gita was not a ‘dharma granth’ (religious scripture) but a ‘karma granth’ (book on individual’s actions). “Gita is not a dharma granth. It is a karma granth,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said. He said some people see secularism in danger whenever there is talk about ‘sanskriti and sanskar’ (heritage and culture). “The entire country is proud of Bhagwad Gita,” he said.
“You cannot impose one holy book as the national book,” Raja said, adding India is a multi-religion and multi-lingual society where different sections hold various scriptures as holy. Swaraj’s statement, he said, was not an isolated statement and should be seen in the context of remarks by BJP and RSS leaders. “There is a sinister design to alter secular fabric and secular character of the Constitution,” he said.
Raja asked why the BJP government was giving “special treatment” to Sanskrit language in school education at the cost of other Indian languages like Tamil which are equally ancient. Swaraj’s statement, he said, was “objectionable” and “the House should take note of it and disapprove it.” While Digvijay Singh (Congress) said he condemns Swaraj’s statement, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said the holy book for India is its Constitution that guarantees right of equality to all.
Several members from Left, Congress and Trinamool rose to associate themselves with Raja.