Union Minister Anant Hegde today apologised for his remarks on the Constitution, that had led to protests by the opposition and uproar in the parliament, leading to adjournments several times.
"Regarding the deadlock in Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha due to my statement, I want to assure my friends that constitution is supreme to me, Parliament is supreme to me," he said today, adding that he deeply respects Baba Saheb Ambedkar and 'as a citizen,' 'can never go against it (Constitution).'
His clarification comes after the Congress, headed by party president Rahul Gandhi protested in front of Gandhi status inside Parliament premises today.
At a function in Karnataka on Sunday, Hegde had reportedly said people should identify themselves by their religion and "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."
He had also said "we are here to change the Constitution and we'll change it."
Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge objected to Ananth Kumar Hegde's clarification, following which Hegde said, 'If anyone was hurt by my statements I tender an apology.'
Opposition parties took strong objection to Hegde's remarks on amending the Constitution and said such a person should have no place in the council of ministers.
Hegde should either apologise or Prime Minister Narendra Modi should take a call on whether such a person should continue as minister, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters outside Parliament on Wednesday.
He said opposition parties had raised the matter with Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and claimed that the government has sought time till tomorrow to respond on their demands.
"Opposition parties are of the opinion that any minister who does not believe in the Constitution of India, should have no place in the council of ministers, in the Government of India, it is for the prime minister now (to take a call on him)," Azad told reporters.
"Either Hegde should apologise in both Houses and to the nation or the prime minister should take a decision on whether such people should continue," he said.
"The Government has asked us to give time till tomorrow. So, we have agreed. Let the Government decide," he added.
Azad said the Congress and other opposition parties have sought an apology from the minister concerned who has uttered these words. The apology should not be to Parliamentarians but to the entire nation, he said.
"This Constitution is applicable to each and every citizen of India irrespective of caste, religion. The prime minister should take a decision, whether such people should continue in the Government or not," he said.
(Inputs from agencies)