Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled India’s new parliament building on May 28, 2023, marking a significant step in his government’s plan to transform the architectural landscape of the nation’s capital. The modern complex stands as a symbol of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Hindu nationalist agenda and its commitment to revitalizing the British colonial-era structures.
The inauguration coincides with the ongoing renovation of central New Delhi, which aims to incorporate Indian culture, traditions, and symbols. The timing of the event, one year ahead of parliamentary elections, allows the BJP to showcase its Hindu nationalist credentials and highlight its performance during its previous ten-year tenure as it seeks a third term.
The Inauguration Ceremony
In the early hours of the morning, Prime Minister Modi performed traditional prayers outside the parliament complex in the presence of top cabinet ministers. He then proceeded to light a traditional lamp inside the new parliament building. As he entered the premises, he was greeted with enthusiastic cheers and chants of “Modi, Modi” from guests, government officials, and lawmakers.
In his address, the prime minister expressed his belief that the new complex would serve as a testament to a self-reliant India. However, the event faced a boycott from 20 opposition parties who alleged that Modi had disregarded protocol by inaugurating the complex instead of the president, the country’s highest executive authority. Opposition leader Supriya Sule argued that the absence of the opposition delegitimized the event, stating that it was an incomplete representation of democracy.
Government Response and Justification
The Modi government rejected the opposition’s claims, asserting that no protocol breach had occurred and emphasizing the prime minister’s respect for the constitutional head of the country. According to a parliament official, President Droupadi Murmu’s note welcoming Modi’s inauguration of the new complex was read during the ceremony. Despite the opposition’s reservations, the government maintained its stance that the event was conducted within the appropriate parameters.
Features of the New Parliament Building
The new parliament complex serves as the centerpiece of a $2.4 billion project aimed at overshadowing the prominence of colonial-era structures in New Delhi’s city center. The initiative aims to establish modern buildings with a distinct Indian identity. Compared to the old building, the new complex offers a substantial increase in capacity and amenities. It boasts a total of 1,272 seats across two chambers, almost 500 more than its predecessor. Additionally, the new parliament provides three times as much space, enabling the accommodation of new lawmakers in the world’s most populous nation.
Located adjacent to the circular heritage building constructed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker in 1927, two decades before India gained independence, the old parliament will be converted into a museum. During the inauguration ceremony, Prime Minister Modi led a procession carrying the “Sengol,” accompanied by traditional “nadaswaram” music and Vedic mantras.
The procession culminated in the new parliament building, where Modi placed the “Sengol” in a dedicated enclosure on the right side of the Speaker’s chair in the Lok Sabha chamber. The prime minister also took the opportunity to honor select workers who made significant contributions to the construction of the new parliament building.
Significance of the Sengol
The Sengol, a five-foot-long scepter made of silver and gold, was handed over by Lord Mountbatten to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on August 14, 1947, symbolizing the transfer of power during India’s independence. Afterward, the Sengol, which represents governance in Tamil kingdoms of the past, was displayed in The Allahabad Museum. Its placement in the new parliament building carries historical and cultural significance.
Details of the New Parliament Building
The new parliament building is situated in the Central Vista area of New Delhi and has been meticulously designed to meet the growing size and requirements of the Indian Parliament. With seating capacity for 888 members in the Lok Sabha and 384 members in the Rajya Sabha, the new structure demonstrates a forward-looking approach. Furthermore, it features six committee rooms equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual systems, a significant improvement compared to the existing parliament building, which has only three such rooms.
In terms of its architectural design, the new building deviates from the circular shape of its predecessor and adopts a triangular form, optimizing space utilization across its expansive area of approximately 65,000 square meters. The construction of the four-story building was carried out by Tata Projects Limited, based on the design by Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management. The estimated cost of the project amounts to ₹970 crore.
Prime Minister Modi took to Twitter to express his admiration for the new parliament building, describing it as a “beacon of our democracy.” The development aligns with the larger vision of reshaping the Central Vista area to reflect a modern India while preserving its cultural heritage.
The completion of the new parliament building marks a significant milestone in the country’s architectural landscape. As it stands as a symbol of India’s aspirations and growth, it serves as a testament to the nation’s progress and commitment to its democratic values.
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PM Narendra Modi Inaugurates new Parliament Building – FAQs
Q1: What is the significance of the new Parliament building?
Ans: The Indian government’s proposal to update the colonial-era architecture in New Delhi includes the construction of the new Parliament building. It represents the Hindu nationalist agenda of the in power Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and exemplifies India’s dedication to reviving its architectural environment.
Q2: What is the design and cost of the new Parliament building?
Ans: The triangular design of the new Parliament building maximises space utilisation over an area of about 65,000 square metres. It is a four-story building that was probably built for around 970 crore rupees. Tata Projects Limited built the structure after HCP Design, Planning and Management of Ahmedabad designed it.
Q3: What is the Sengol and its significance?
Ans: The Sengol is a five-foot-long, silver and gold scepter. On August 14, 1947, Lord Mountbatten gave it to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, symbolizing the handover of authority during India’s independence. The Sengol, which has been installed in a special enclosure in the new Parliament building, symbolizes authority in earlier Tamil kingdoms.