Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Ananth Kumar Hegde has once again sparked a controversy after he allegedly made a statement over the secular term in the Indian Constitution.
Hegde was at a function in North Karnataka's Koppal district where he claimed, "We (BJP) will soon change the Constitution, which mentions the word 'secular'." He said it is "a new fad where people project themselves as secular."
The 49-year-old minister from Karnataka reportedly asked the people to "claim with pride that they are Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin, or Hindu," as he stressed that "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."
Hegde then asserted, "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."
A confident Hegde added, "We are here to change the Constitution and we'll change it."
Taking offence, the ruling Congress in the state has challenged the BJP to contest the upcoming Karnataka Assemby election in 2018, on Hegde's claims, to change the Constitution.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah slammed Hegde over his claims as he said Hegde has "clearly not studied the Constitution, does not know parliamentary or political language," as he reaffirmed that "he must know each and every individual in this country is an Indian, and every religion has equal right and opportunity."
Well, Hegde who has been a five time member of the lower house in parliament, from north Karnataka, became a part of the saffron party's council of ministers during the August reshuffle.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Hegde has been at the centre of a political controversy. Earlier in October Hegde had objected to attending Tipu Jyanti celebrations on November 10 and in a letter to Siddaramaiah he had said "I have conveyed to Karnataka government not to invite me to the shameful event of glorifying a person known as a brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist."
Yet another row involving Hegde in a case of alleged violence came to light soon after he was appointed as a minister. Hegde was seen in a CCTV footage from a hospital thrashing a doctor and slamming his head to a wall. Hegde felt that the doctors were not paying enough attention to his mother.
The series of controversies linked to Hegde are like trend now, as earlier this month a case was registered against him for abusing Siddaramaiah in Belagavi district of Karnataka.