Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde has "no right" to be in the House or in the government, the Opposition said on Wednesday, disrupting the Rajya Sabha over the Karnataka MP's controversial remarks that the ruling BJP was "here to change the Constitution" and remove the word "secular" from it.
Opposition members vociferously raised the Hegde issue as soon as the House convened after a four-day break amid continued logjam over Congress' demand for apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad lashed out at the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party and said if any person lacked faith in the Indian Constitution, he did not deserve to be in the House or in the government.
"The Minister has no trust in the Constitution and has no right to be the minister. He has no right to be a Member of Parliament either," Azad said.
The Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship at a function in Kukanur in Karnataka on Monday urged people to "claim with pride that they are Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin, or a Hindu" and said: "Those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don't have their own identity...They don't know about their parentage, but they are intellectuals.
"Some people say the Constitution says secular and you must accept it. We will respect the Constitution, but the Constitution has changed several times and it will change in the future too.
"We are here to change the Constitution and we'll change it soon."
As the Parliament met for the first time after an extended weekend, the Opposition sought a discussion over the issue.
Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu denied the request but allowed the Opposition members to briefly make a mention about it in the Zero Hour.
Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal said Hegde had abused the Constitution and insulted its architects like B.R. Ambedkar.
"It is like abusing the Constitution. Can anyone remain Minister by abusing the Constitution? It is an insult to Babasaheb Ambedkar," Agarwal said.
The ruling BJP members took objections to Agarwal unnecessarily dragging Ambedkar into the row. They also protested, triggering slogans from the Opposition.
Naidu then adjourned the House till 12 p.m.