Amending The Preamble And UCC – The TAMASHA Is On

Shantanu Basu

Shantanu Basu

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What better than to let loose a canard about amending the Preamble and/or introducing the UCC?

I HAVE BEEN observing friends passing judgment on the rumoured move to rename India as Bharat or to removing the term ‘secular’ from the Preamble. What is even more amusing is the figure of Rs. 15000 crore being bandied on social media as the cost of implementing this change.

However, what suprises, and even saddens me, that very few, if any, of my friends, notwithstanding their high education and professional achievements, have strangely applied themselves to the ramifications of this rumoured change. I am sure you could have done far better! Although I am not a lawyer, yet I thought I should note down my perceptions in the succeeding paragraphs.

preambleThe core issue is the identity of the Preamble that is akin to a building’s foundation; it is the principles and philosophy upon which the Constitution stands. You destroy the foundation and the building crumbles instantly.

Some of you may point to Mrs. Gandhi’s amendment to include ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ in the Constitution in the mid-1970s. The latter term was to ensure that the right wing could never impose a Hindu Rashtra. At the same time, Mrs. Gandhi ADDED but did not DELETE any part of the original Preamble that possibly made it legally acceptable.

However, deleting ‘India that is……..’ or ‘secular’ will knock the base from the Preamble and create the ground for a new Constitution, a feature endemic only to tin pot African banana republics.

Just how will removing part of a seemingly innocuous part of a phrase or single term, call into question the whole Constitution?

The moment either or both ‘secular’ and ‘India’ are removed from the Preamble, it automatically follows there can be no equality and fraternity among citizens, most of all, the upper castes, since only the majority will enjoy Constitutional protection.

Overnight India will be constitutionally fractured and be on the verge of fragmenting into a pre-1956 situation. For instance, a minority member will no longer be entitled to any constitutional protection. Again, those communities that follow animistic religious persuasion will fare no better. Equality will end and so will fraternity and liberty.

That is why Art. 1, i.e. the Preamble is immutable, save for additions, that do not detract from the underlying principles of governance enshrined in it. It is not a subordinate Article of the Constitution that must not be defiled because it strikes at the essence of our nationhood. A govt. cannot dictate what is secular or decided on a name change as if it were VT to CST, a measly railway station.

If today ‘Bharat’ comes alive, tomorrow it will be ‘secular’. How will courts even decide petitions before them relating to fundamental and other legal rights or strike down brazenly communal state policies, recruitments, postings, property grabbing, etc.?

Although the Preamble is immutable in its basic philosophy, yet it affects the whole Constitutional document.

What population composition will determine the representation of states in their assemblies and in Parliament, more so since Art. 55 (election of President) refers to an electoral college based on the Census, the latest of which has not been conducted?

If representation of states in Parliament is to be decidedly in favour of a religious majority, how will states with larger minority representation be represented since minorities will no longer be equated to Hindus? Will citizens be taxed on the basis of their religion and states granted financial assistance in proportion to their population composition?

Would all autonomous councils cease to exist because they can no longer claim equal status with the majority? If the so-called UCC is introduced what will be the legal rights of non-Hindus? What will be the status of the Seventh Schedule (Lists I-III)? India will descend into an abyss from which it will never recover.

Art. 368 of the Constitution prescribes:

Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure therefor:

(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may in exercise of its constituent power amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of this Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in this article.

(2) An amendment of this Constitution may be initiated only by the introduction of a Bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament, and when the Bill is passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House present and voting, it shall be presented to the President who shall give his assent to the Bill and thereupon the Constitution shall stand amended in accordance with the terms of the Bill: Provided that if such amendment seeks to make any change in

(a) Article 54, Article 55, Article 73, Article 162 or Article 241, or

(b) Chapter IV of Part V, Chapter V of Part VI, or Chapter I of Part XI, or

(c) any of the Lists in the Seventh Schedule, or

(d) the representation of States in Parliament, or

(e) the provisions of this article, the amendment shall also require to be ratified by the Legislature of not less than one half of the States by resolution to that effect passed by those Legislatures before the Bill making provision for such amendment is presented to the President for assent

While I have raised questions on most of the articles under Art. 368, what is most interesting is Art. 368(2)(e) above. Although the Preamble is immutable in its basic philosophy, yet it affects the whole Constitutional document. In effect, that means if the Preamble is to face deletion of ‘India’ and/or ‘secular’, to my mind, that will attract the provisions of Art. 368 (2)(e) since the full Constitution will be affected.

Both ‘India’ and ‘secular’ are the twin biggest hurdles for Hindu Rashtra. ‘Bharat’, a purely Hindu, but mythological, term and deletion of ‘secular’ from the Preamble is the starting point. The three new sets of laws, viz. IPC, Cr PC and IEA that are awaiting clearance from a parliamentary committee will all be legalized overnight as equal rights will not be available to all communities.


Likewise, Fundamental and other legal rights would also not apply to non-Hindu communities. Finally, the SC and other courts would be reduced to a cipher that is also a major objective.

What seems probable is that an ultra RW section in the govt and the party-Sangh believes the Great Leader has not done enough to enhance the position of the majority community, mostly the upper castes. All these rumours did not happen overnight; the regime introduced it in the media by using its pet proxies.

Given endless governance failures that has led to massive anti-incumbency across India, the regime realizes it has to galvanize its dispirited cadres and borrowed foot soldiers from the Sangh; the only way they can do it is to hark back to a Hindu Rashtra.

On the flip side, it is possible that there is a power tussle at the top of the regime and its party with the extreme RW demanding these changes to the Preamble only to let the regime head discredit himself with the backlash and failure to pass the amendment through state assemblies (BJP is in power in just 5 states while the remaining 9 are with NE Indian partners who are put off by events in Manipur). Then they can always find another head to lead them into GE 2024 (since the Sangh now says its only vote catcher will not win GE 2024 for them), even before to face 5 assembly elections.

Courtesy: South First

Udaynidhi Stalin has recently let loose a cat among the pigeons by condemning Sanatan Dharma for its centuries-old rank caste and gender iniquities with an Ayodhya seer having announced a bounty of Rs. 10 crore for his head).

In turn, this is bound to provoke a reaction from upper castes, a large proportion of which are avid BJP fans. Equally, the upper caste leadership in other national and regional parties is facing the heat (TMC has condemned Udaynidhi’s statement).

For 75 years, the subaltern communities have played second fiddle, even as unwritten serfs to upper castes. Many subalterns are also practising animists, Christians and Muslims who will be affected if ‘secular’ disappears from the Preamble.

In one way, in maybe my febrile imagination alone, GE 2024 will be the final battle, albeit bloody too, for political supremacy between subalterns (80% of voters) and upper castes (10-15% of voters). If the deletion of ‘secular’ and ‘Bharat’ from the Preamble is represented by the upper caste BJP, all subalterns are, in varying measure, represented in the I.N.D.I.A alliance. That will be one helluva battle.

My impression, as on date, is that the five day session of Parliament will be a big tamasha by inaugurating the new building with fiery speeches thrown in for ample measure, a grand appearance on a bhakt-drawn chariot by the King Emperor of the Realm, opulent lunches and dinners and some grand announcements of several lakh crore Rupees.

The only way legislation amending the Preamble can be introduced without any notice to MPs is by mailing each a non-editable e-document when Parliament convenes and then mark it to a committee for examination. Following that would be innumerable ED and CBI raids on CMs of all opposition-ruled states to coerce them into granting approval for the proposed constitutional amendment (for a majority of 16 states & UTs) before the winter session in Nov-Dec. UCC too may follow the same route.

In fine, what emerges is a regime and the GREAT LEADER fighting with their back to the wall, fully aware of what awaits them outside the seat of power. In 75 years, I have not heard of the national head of govt, Union HM and the national party president being election in-charge for three states.

Each state unit of the party has 5-9 CMs in waiting, block level migration to I.N.D.I.A. alliance partners is happening (unreported on Godi Media) on substantial scale, sure shot election winners in the old guard in states have been sidelined, southern India (and probably NE India and Assam) too are possibly lost, KN and HP migrated to the INC and PB to AAP, the BJP lost over 50 seats in the last UP Assembly polls, MP, RJ, CG, TG and MZ too are expected to fall to I.N.D.I.A. partners.

Marathis are seething with the imposition of people they never elected as their leaders and massive corruption, loss of high profile projects to neighbouring GJ and sidelining of Mr. Gadkari, RJD & JDU have come together in BH, ED/I-T/CBI has not been able to file a single charge sheet against any major opposition politician after several rounds of questioning and raids over the last 5 years and more.

China & Russia have now started ignoring India, US is working to unseat Indian ally (the last one left) in BD, after 19 rounds of Corps Commander level talks in Ladakh, India has meekly conceded all Chinese occupied lands in Eastern Ladakh and now confines itself to disengagement of troops only, the Chinese military build-up relentlessly continues, cash-rich states now joining BRICS that will eventually marginalize India, unprecedented food inflation and unemployment……………..the list of woes is expanding on an hourly basis.

What better than to let loose a canard about amending the Preamble and/or introducing the UCC? That takes care of the fringe RW and fires cadres with the slogan of ‘Hindu khatre mein hain………….isiliye Hindu Rashtra lana zaroori hai’ hyperbole. If all fails, the party could be looking at an alternative, if they can find one from among the legions of minions that dot its landscape. punjab


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Shantanu Basu

Shantanu Basu

Writer is a retired senior civil servant, public policy analyst, author and commentator.

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