On January 18, 1927, India’s Parliament House was inaugurated by Viceroy Lord Irwin, showcasing the architectural brilliance of Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. Over a century later, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for a new parliament building on December 10, 2020, as part of the ambitious Central Vista plan. The project aimed to reshape the remnants of British Delhi and infuse them with a sense of Indian nationalism. Urban designer Bimal Hamukh Patel was chosen to transform Delhi’s prestigious neighborhoods and give them a new identity.
While the old parliament building still exuded the essence of British India with its grandeur and intricate design, concerns were raised about its durability in the face of Delhi’s frequent seismic activity. Recognizing the need for a structure that truly embodied Indian ethos and ensured long-term resilience, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government decided to construct a new parliament building. The vestiges of British colonialism are still palpable throughout Delhi, especially in the iconic Raisina Hills.
The construction of the new parliament building progressed rapidly, leading to its inauguration taking place two months ahead of schedule. This momentous occasion was meant to be cherished by all Indians, as the building would witness and become part of the nation’s historical events for the next century. However, the event was marred by political controversy, as 19 opposition parties chose to boycott the inauguration. They accused the Prime Minister of eroding democratic values and adopting an authoritarian approach. Additionally, a dispute arose over the Prime Minister inaugurating the building instead of the President, further fueling tensions.
Opposition parties countered the BJP’s efforts by questioning the source of funding, claiming that it was not the party’s money but rather the taxes paid by India’s impoverished citizens that built the parliament. Interestingly, these same parties had previously criticized the construction project, citing the country’s dire financial situation and labeling it an unnecessary extravagance.
Furthermore, the opposition strategically played the Dalit card, alleging that the exclusion of President Droupadi Murmu, a Dalit, from the event reflected discrimination. This accusation contradicted their previous support for a Dalit candidate, Yaswanth Sinha, in the presidential elections. Amidst this political wrangling, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) from Odisha stood apart by confirming their participation in the inaugural event.
India’s new parliament building symbolizes the country’s evolution and aspirations, but it is unfortunate that political controversies have overshadowed the significance of this historic moment. The opposition’s boycott and allegations against the government reflect the ongoing polarization within Indian politics. Nevertheless, the new parliament building stands as a testament to India’s resilience and determination to shape its future while preserving its rich heritage.
Discussion about this post