Yogi Adityanath, the controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, has proposed that Article 1 of the Constitution of India be amended. The Bill that Adityanath wants Lok Sabha to debate aims to replace the word ‘India’ with ‘Hindustan’. Article 1 of the Constitution states: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” The Bill moved by Adityanath argues that Article 1 should instead read “Bharat, that is Hindustan…”
“The world “India” denotes the symbol of slavery and thus deserves to be omitted from our Constitution,” states the Bill. The last two and a half hours of Friday afternoons are reserved in the two Houses for discussion on private members’ bills.
The Bill had been listed in the day’s business on November 28 and circulated among rest of the 542 Lok Sabha MPs. But Adityanath wasn’t present in the House that day to introduce the Bill.
This led to conjectures within the party that the MP from Gorakhpur has been asked not to rake up a potentially controversial issues within months after his advocacy of countering the phenomenon of ‘love jihad’.
The Bill, however, is listed for introduction for today afternoon. It remains to be seen whether Adityanath will be present in the House to introduce the Bill. The Bill is somewhat of a pet subject with the 43-year-old MP. He had introduced the Bill in the previous Lok Sabha on March 5, 2010 but it could never come up for debate.
The issue, however, isn’t new. The Constituent Assembly had also debated the possible name of the newly independent country. Names suggested during the Constituent Assembly debates in 1946 had ranged from Bharat, Hindustan, Hind, Bharatbhumi, Bharatvarsh and Aryavrat.
Historians think ‘India’ and ‘Hindu’ have originated from ‘Sindhu, the river that now flows in Pakistan. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) believes that all inhabitants of the geographical entity of Bharat or India are Hindus as Hindutva is a way of life and Hindus could be of any religion worshipping any God. Therefore, the land should also be called ‘Hindustan’.
On Thursday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, while replying to the debate on recent reports of religious conversions in Uttar Pradesh, said that “some people have the problem of having allergy to the word Hindu”. Naidu said for the BJP, ‘Hindustan’ meant “all people irrespective of caste, creed, sex or religion.” He said all, whether Christians or Hindus or Muslims, who live in Hindustan or India, have the same way of life while their forms of worship may be different.
According to a study by PRS Legislative Research, Parliament has passed 14 private members’ Bills till date. However, no private members’ Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. Of the 300 odd such Bills introduced in the previous Lok Sabha, only four per cent were discussed and the rest lapsed without even a single debate.
All MPs who are not ministers are considered private members. MPs need to a give a month’s notice for introduction of the Bill, those that aim to amend the Constitution are vetted by a committee.
Generally, the motion for introduction of the Bill is not opposed but there have been instances to the contrary as well when a majority of the House has opposed the introduction. Private members’ bills and private members’ resolutions are taken up on alternate Fridays.
The Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions decides the relative priority of the Bills after a ballot. Adityanath’s Bill is listed at number three in today’s business. This order, however, is not carried forward if the Bill is not introduced. Although, the discussion already started is carried forward.