The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday distanced itself from Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde's recent claim that the party will change the Constitution and remove the word "secular" from it.
"The party (BJP) doesn't want to get involved with what Hegde has said. What he spoke about is not an issue for us," BJP spokesperson for Karnataka Vamanacharya told IANS in Bengaluru.
The Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship had on Monday said the BJP was in power to "change the Constitution".
"People agree with the word secular as it is mentioned in the Constitution. It (the Constitution) has changed many times before and we have come to change the Constitution," Hegde said at an event in Kuknur in Koppal district, about 400km to the north of the state capital.
Those who call themselves secular are like people "without parentage", the minister had said.
"If someone says I'm a Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin or a Hindu, I feel happy because they know their roots. For those calling themselves secularists, I don't know what to call them," the 49-year-old minister said.
Calling Hegde's statements "disparaging", the Congress' state unit said the BJP was "denigrating the ideals" on which the Constitution is based.
"Our country is built on the ideals of secularism and co-existence of people of all castes, creeds, races and religions. Our Constitution is based on ideals, which the BJP is denigrating by allowing Hegde to make such disparaging statements," said the working president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee Dinesh Gundu Rao.
Hegde, who hails from Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district, about 400km to the northwest of Bengaluru, was appointed as the Union Minister in September after a Cabinet reshuffle.
He has been a Lok Sabha lawmaker from the Uttara Kannada constituency for five terms.