The inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament Complex is just an event that is occupying media headlines for all the wrong reasons with about twenty opposition parties having decided to boycott it. Nobody is talking about the concept, design, or other details of this national monument in the making or how the project has been executed efficiently in record time. The fact that the opposition is envious, to the point of being venomous, of Mr Modi for this achievement is obvious. After all, he has achieved in two years what many in the opposition have been talking about since 1995 when Mr PV Narasimhan of the Congress party was the Prime Minister. 

For some opposition parties, the Rs 1,300 crore reported budget of the complex is a waste of money. They conveniently forget the much higher losses that accrue to the nation when their elected leaders deliberately disrupt the functioning of the parliament for days and weeks on petty issues. For some, the fact that the Prime Minister is inaugurating it seems to be unpalatable. They think it should be done by the President. In doing so, they completely ignore past precedents where their own parties, both at the Center and in states, did not extend such honour to the President or Governors. More importantly, such decisions are the prerogative of the government in power. While there is no doubt that the President is the Numero Uno citizen of the country and custodian of democracy, the parliament is more the domain of the Prime Minister and elected members. Any insinuation that the President will be belittled if the Prime Minister inaugurates the complex can only be termed as outlandish.

Last but not the least is the issue of the Sengol being placed next to the chair of the speaker of the Lok Sabha. It is a traditional symbol of transfer of power and has its origins during the times of the Chola dynasty. The Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam Mutt in Tamil Nadu and others have confirmed the same. It was presented by Lord Mountbatten to Pandit Nehru on the eve of independence in 1947 at the behest of C Rajagopalachari. The head priest of the Mutt was invited to officiate in the religious ceremony. Thus, its significance, heritage and historical importance is unquestioned. Unfortunately, the Sengol was consigned to an obscure museum in Allahabad by the Congress party and labeled as ‘Walking Stick presented to Pandit Nehru.’ Today, the Congress party denies all this despite more than credible evidence on view that supports the claims of the government.

Many in the opposition and the anti-Modi brigade, are objecting to the Sengol being placed in the new parliament since it has roots in Hindu culture and traditions. This is nothing new as they object to anything and everything that is even remotely connected to Hindus or Hinduism. They have an unflinching agenda to obliterate the rich Hindu heritage, religion, knowledge, and traditions in their single-minded quest of appeasing the largest minority in the country. For an India that is reinventing itself, it is best to ignore them and move on. Every nation has national symbols that are part of their history, culture and heritage that help to bind the society. India is no exception. The Sengol must be seen as one more such symbol that was given that honour on the eve of independence and then relegated to obscurity. The current government is only restoring it to its rightful place at par with other national symbols.

In a democracy, the parliament is the temple of democracy. In other words, it is the ultimate seat of democratic power exercised by the people through their elected representatives. It stands to logic that it must represent the nation’s values, both traditional and modern. That is exactly what the new parliament complex is all about. The old building, apart from having outlived its utility, was a replica of the British Raj and was never a truly Indian edifice fit for the world’s largest and perhaps the most thriving democracy. Over the last many decades, parliamentarians from many parties made noise about the need for a new complex, but they were never serious. The current BJP government has shown that it was both, serious and committed, to the need and turned the wish into a reality. 

It is no secret that part of the opposition and their pseudo intellectual well-wishers have a deep-rooted hatred for the persona of Mr Modi, the two-time elected Prime Minister of the country. In their book he can do nothing right. They refuse to see the mood and aspirations of a resurgent India that wants to grow on its own terms based on the rich heritage, culture, knowledge, and traditions that have hither to before not been exploited since independence. Such a resurrection, aided by selective learning from more developed nations and willingness to adopt a humane approach towards the lesser developed nations, has the potential to take this nation on a path of governance, development and growth that would be the envy of the world. In the absence of this transformation, the country will continue to struggle in its quest to ape the western models blindly without leveraging its own traditions and values.

Conceptually, it is the people of the country who own the new Parliament but in real physical terms it is the elected representatives who occupy it. To that extent every elected member of parliament owns a bit of this national monument during his term on behalf of the voters who give him that honour. So, when some of them boycott the opening ceremony or term the new parliament as an infructuous need, they are actually letting down their voters and in turn their nation. Surely, the old parliament building was not going to remain in operation for perpetuity. At some point of time, it had to be replaced. If that is true then the only reason for the boycott is perhaps that history will give credit to Mr Modi and BJP for this momentous achievement – and that is not palatable to their detractors.  

Today, part of the opposition has decided not to attend the opening ceremony of the new parliament complex scheduled for 28 June 2023. The question that arises is will they continue to do so when the next parliamentary session is held in the new premises? If they do, then they have no right to remain as elected representatives since they will be shirking their responsibilities and the faith bestowed on them. If they walk into the portals of the new complex, they may need face masks to hide their embarrassment as they will stand exposed. It is time for the opposition to be more pragmatic and to understand that protests and disruptions on petty issues will not take them anywhere. Let the new parliament be the motivation to be more proactive, credible, and sincere in discharging their duties in the interests of the nation and the people they represent. Let us, as a nation, show the world that India has finally arrived



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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