Patna: Shiv Sena's demand to remove the words 'secular' and 'socialist' from the Preamble of the Constitution today drew flak from Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson Tushar Gandhi.
The two described the demand as "destructive", "reprehensible" and "contemptuous statement made out of ignorance and bigotry" at a stamp and painting exhibition in the state capital to celebrate 100th year of Mahatma Gandhi's arrival in India from South Africa.
Inaugurating the exhibition, Manjhi said "Some people are saying secularism is not needed and India should forget about it. This is very worrying."
"Mahatma Gandhi always spoke about co-existence, but have we become so insensitive that we can say secularism is not needed. Did Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of Hindu Raj and fought for it? He always talked about serving the society and the poor," the chief minister added.
People were getting trapped in religious bigotry, casteism, and language fights, he said. "There is a need to move towards humanity, otherwise India will suffer."
Shiv Sena had yesterday demanded deletion of the words 'secular' and 'socialist' from the Constitution as they were not there in the original Preamble. Tushar Gandhi, who was present at the exhibition, also reacted sharply on the demand by Shiv Sena.
"Such a demand is reprehensible. It is a contemptuous statement made out of ignorance and bigotry. Leave alone pursuing, it should not be given importance by anybody," Tushar Gandhi told reporters on the sidelines of the function.
Tushar, who is also the Managing Trustee of Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, stressed on the need for secularism, diversity and plurality in the country. He said the most important aspect of US President Barack Obama's visit was his suggestion on 'religious tolerance'. "If our country again gets divided in the name of religion, then it will no longer remain a nation." He said Gandhi should be removed from the high pedestal of 'Mahatma' and made a family member as 'Bapu'.
"We should take Gandhi to the people in a manner and language in which they will understand him. A movie like Lage Raho Munna Bhai did more towards this than generations of intellectuals could do in 60 years," Tushar said.
The exhibition displayed stamps on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's transition from a barrister in South Africa to 'Mahatma' in India. Besides India, the displayed stamps are from South Africa, Mauritius, Guinea Bissau, Bhutan, Grenada, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Congo, Senegal, Gambia, Guyana and other countries.