Sengol installation, Opposition digs, protesting wrestlers: All about inauguration of new Parliament building

"May this iconic building be a cradle of empowerment, igniting dreams, and nurturing them into reality," said Modi about the new building.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published May 28, 2023 | 8:40 PMUpdated May 28, 2023 | 8:43 PM

Sengol installation, Opposition digs, protesting wrestlers: All about inauguration of new Parliament building

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote history on Sunday, 28 May, inaugurating the new Parliament building in New Delhi, installing the much-talked-about “Sengol” — which symbolises the practice of dharma in the nation — near the Speaker’s chair in the Lok Sabha chamber.

The event took place despite 21 Opposition parties crying foul and boycotting the programme, calling it a departure from democratic values as the government did not invite President Droupadi Murmu, who is the Head of Parliament, to the event.

The 21 Opposition parties who boycotted the event include the Congress, TMC, DMK, JD(U), AAP, NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT), and the BRS (though it had not officially announced its decision).

Eleven NDA constituents and five non-NDA parties extended support to Modi and attended the event.

The NDA constituents, included Shiv Sena (Shinde), AIADMK, NCP (Meghalaya), Mizo National Front, and Apna Dal.

The non-NDA parties included the YSRCP, Telugu Desam Party, Biju Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party, and the Lok Janshakti Party.

Also read: Dalit outfits target BJP for not naming new Parliament after Ambedkar

Modi’s address

Soon after inaugurating the new Parliament building, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he hoped that the iconic building would become a cradle of empowerment, igniting dreams and nurturing them into reality.

“May it propel our great nation to new heights of progress,” he said.

“As the new building of India’s Parliament is inaugurated, our hearts and minds are filled with pride, hope and promise. May this iconic building be a cradle of empowerment, igniting dreams, and nurturing them into reality. May it propel our great nation to new heights of progress,” the prime minister tweeted.

In a message to the nation from the new building, he said that the new Parliament building was a reflection of the aspirations of New India and a testament to the dawn of a self-reliant nation.

He said that as India surges ahead, the new Parliament building will also contribute to the world’s progress.

“The new Parliament building will be a testament to the dawn of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). It will be a witness to our journey towards a Viksit Bharat (developed India),” Modi said at the event attended by former president Ram Nath Kovind, Chief Ministers YS Jagan Mohan Reddy (Andhra Pradesh), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Eknath Shinde (Maharashtra), and Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland), foreign envoys, parliamentarians, and people from different walks of life.

“More than just a building, the new Parliament encompasses the aspirations and dreams of 1.4 billion people. It sends a powerful message to the world about India’s unwavering determination,” Modi said.

Also read: National emblem controversy, Sarnath, and lions in South India

Sengol installation

The prime minister also installed the Sengol in the new Parliament building.

“In the Chola empire, it (Sengol) was considered a symbol of the Kartavya path (path of duty), Seva path (path of service), and Rashtra path (path of the nation),” Modi said.

In the morning, dressed in traditional attire, Modi walked into the new Parliament building from Gate No 1 and was welcomed by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

Amidst chanting of Vedic mantras by priests from Karnataka’s Sringeri Math, the prime minister perform a “Ganapati Homam” to invoke the Gods to bless the inauguration of the new Parliament building.

The prime minister prostrated before the Sengol and sought blessings from high priests of various Adheenams in Tamil Nadu with the holy sceptre in hand.

Modi then carried the Sengol in a procession amid tunes of the nadaswaram and chanting of Vedic mantras to the new Parliament building, where he installed it in a special enclosure on the right side of the Speaker’s chair in the Lok Sabha chamber.

Also read: Separating facts from fiction on the Sengol 

President’s message

Earlier, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh read out messages from President Droupadi Murmu and Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar on the occasion of the inauguration of the new Parliament building.

In her message, President Droupadi Murmu welcomed the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Modi and said that it is a matter of pride and immense happiness for the entire country.

“Inauguration of the new Parliament building is a matter of pride and joy for all the people of India,” she said in her message.

Noting the Parliament was a guiding light for the country, Murmu said that the new Parliament building “is an important milestone in our democratic journey”.

She noted in her message: “The occasion of the inauguration of the new Parliament building will be written in golden words in the history of India.”

Several Union ministers, including Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, S Jaishankar, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Mansukh Mandaviya, and Jitendra Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and BJP President JP Nadda, among other leaders, were present on the occasion.

Actors Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar said on social media they believed the new Parliament building would contribute towards a “new India” and become a symbol of the country’s growth story.

The Hindi film stars shared a glimpse of the new Parliament building on Twitter on Saturday night and expressed their happiness over its inauguration by Prime Minister Modi.

Also Read: Resolution wants Centre to name Parliament building after Ambedkar

Opposition hits back

As the prime minister was taking part in the ceremonies that marked the inauguration of the new Parliament building, the Congress slammed him, saying that “a self-glorifying authoritarian PM with utter disdain for parliamentary procedures” had opened the new complex.

Attacking the prime minister, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “On this day, May 28th: Nehru, the person who did the most to nurture Parliamentary democracy in India, was cremated in 1964. Savarkar, the person whose ideological ecosystem led to the killing of Mahatma Gandhi, was born in 1883. [sic]”

He also said that on this day, President Droupadi Murmu, the first Adivasi to become president, was not allowed to fulfil her constitutional duties of inaugurating the new Parliament building.

The Nationalist Congress party (NCP) said it was saddening that the new Parliament building was not inaugurated by Murmu.

The Shiv Sena (UBT) claimed the inauguration of the new Parliament building by ignoring the President was not in accordance with tradition and protocol.

TMC MP Derek O’Brien said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the new Parliament building was akin to “I only love myself day”, and accused the government of mocking and insulting the House in the past nine years.

He alleged, in his tweet, that the prime minister answered zero questions in Parliament and just one out of 10 Bills was scrutinised by parliamentary committees, down from the earlier seven out of 10 Bills.

He said that the number of ordinances promulgated by the Modi government has more than doubled compared to earlier.

“Eight sessions of Parliament have been adjourned before the scheduled date. Members from the Opposition have been robbed of their right to vote on Bills,” O’Brien said.

“It has been four years, but there is still no Deputy Speaker in Lok Sabha. Stop undermining our great Parliamentary democracy,” he said.

Also read: 19 Opposition parties to boycott inauguration by PM Modi

Opposition views on Sengol

Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal took a dig at the BJP on Sunday over the party describing the Sengol as a symbol of transfer of power from the British.

He said that the transfer of power in India happened through the will of the people who gave themselves this Constitution.

In a tweet, Sibal, a prominent Opposition voice, said, “Sengol: BJP says: Symbol of transfer of power from the British. My take: In India transfer of power through Will of the people who gave to themselves this Constitution. Sengol presented by Goddess Meenakshi to king of Madurai. Symbolises Divine right to rule. [sic]”

Sibal, who was a Union minister during the UPA-1 and UPA-2 governments, quit the Congress in May last year and was elected to the Rajya Sabha as an Independent member with the Samajwadi Party’s support.

He recently floated the non-electoral platform “Insaaf”, aimed at fighting injustice.

In a series of tweets, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged that the inauguration ceremony was held amid “loud propaganda” with the declaration of a “new India”.

“This declaration of a ‘New India’ comes in the absence of the President of India, Vice-President of India, and Opposition parties! India = Nation and Citizen; New India = Raja and Praja [sic],” he said.

“Sengol belongs to the period of feudal monarchies, emperors, and kings. Indian people overthrew such bondages and ushered in a secular democratic republic where every citizen is equal. Sengol has no role in a democracy where people elect the government,” he added.

“Modi invoked the Sengol presented to him. The opposite Kodungol symbolises authoritarianism. Modi invokes Sengol but practices Kodungol,” the CPI(M) leader said.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Sunday likened the architecture of the new Parliament building to a coffin, drawing a sharp response from the BJP, which said that people will bury the Bihar party in such a coffin in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

As the new building was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi, the ruling party in Bihar put out a tweet that showed a coffin and the new legislative building side-by-side and asked, “What is this?”

Also read: Andhra parties TDP, YSRCP to attend new Parliament inauguration

Tharoor on Sengol

Amid the raging Sengol row, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the positions taken by the government and the Opposition on the issue were reconcilable as he called for embracing this symbol from the past to affirm the values of our present.

His remarks come amid a war of words between the Congress and the BJP over the history of the Sengol, with Modi saying that it was a symbol of the transfer of power from the British in 1947 and should have gotten its due respect after Independence, but was kept on display as a “walking stick” at Anand Bhawan in Prayagraj.

The Congress claimed that there was no documentary evidence of Lord Mountbatten, C Rajagopalachari, and Jawaharlal Nehru describing the Sengol as a symbol of the transfer of power from the British to India.

In a long Twitter post, Tharoor said, “My own view on the Sengol controversy is that both sides have good arguments. The government rightly argues that the sceptre reflects a continuity of tradition by embodying sanctified sovereignty and the rule of dharma. The Opposition rightly argues that the Constitution was adopted in the name of the people and that sovereignty abides in the people of India as represented in their Parliament, and is not a kingly privilege handed down by divine right. [sic]”

He added: “The two positions are reconcilable if one simply drops the debatable red herring about the sceptre having been handed to (Jawaharlal) Nehru by Mountbatten to symbolise the transfer of power, a story for which there is no proof.”

Tharoor said that instead it should be simply said that the Sengol sceptre is a traditional symbol of power and authority, and by placing it in the Lok Sabha, India is affirming that sovereignty resides there and not with any monarch.

“Let us embrace this symbol from the past to affirm the values of our present,” the former Union minister and current MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.

Also Read: Hyderabad: Owaisi slams national emblem unveiled by PM Modi

Wrestlers protest on inauguration day

CPI MP Binoy Viswam said that the salutations to the Sengol came at the cost of “beatings to wrestlers”.

“This beginning testify the course of new parliament. Ruthless fascist autocracy guide its way.When PM bowed before Savarkar,Country remembered his mercy petitions.They will try to use new parliament for Adani and FDI.We will fight it [sic],” he said.

CPI (M-L) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya tweeted, “Massive crackdown is going on in Delhi on women wrestlers and other citizens assembling for the Mahila Samman Panchayat even as the inauguration of the new Parliament building resembles the coronation of a king. Brutal assault on democracy and the constitutional spirit and vision. [sic]”

The Delhi Police detained wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia for violation of law and order after they breached the security cordon while trying to move towards the new Parliament building for a women’s “Mahapanchayat”.

Thousands of police personnel were deployed and multiple layers of barricades put in place in the Lutyens’ Delhi area on Sunday as part of the security arrangement for the inauguration of the new Parliament building and protesting wrestlers’ “Mahila Mahapanchayat”, officials said.

Also, all entry and exit gates at the Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan stations of the Delhi Metro were closed as part of security measures.

The new Parliament building is located near the Central Secretariat station, which is an interchange facility between Yellow Line and Violet Line.

A senior police officer said that security was stepped up by enhancing police deployment, placing multiple barricades, and sufficient police pickets. Intensive patrolling was also being carried out across the national capital and its bordering areas to ensure that law and order was maintained, he said.

The wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar, about 2 km from the new Parliament building, said that they would go ahead with their “Mahila Mahapanchayat” near the new building at any cost.

The police, however, said that no protester would be allowed to move towards the new building as permission was not granted to hold the “Mahila Mahapanchayat”.

“We respect our athletes, but we will not let there be any disturbance in the inauguration (of the new Parliament building),” Dependra Pathak, Special CP, Law and Order, told PTI.

Also Read: Congress ‘hypocrite’ for boycotting Parliament inauguration: HDK

About the new building

The existing Parliament building was completed in 1927 and is now 96 years old. Over the years, the old building was found to be inadequate for present-day requirements.

The existing building served as independent India’s first Parliament and witnessed the adoption of the Constitution.

Originally called the Council House, the building housed the Imperial Legislative Council. The Parliament building witnessed the addition of two floors in 1956 to address the demand for more space.

  • The prime minister felicitated with shawls and souvenirs some of the workers for their key role in the construction of the new Parliament building. A multi-faith prayer was also held to mark the occasion.
  • The new Parliament building, constructed by Tata Projects Ltd, has a grand Constitution Hall to showcase India’s democratic heritage, a lounge for MPs, a library, multiple committee rooms, dining areas, and ample parking space.
  • The triangular-shaped four-storey building has a built-up area of 64,500 square metres. The building has three main gates — Gyan Dwar, Shakti Dwar, and Karma Dwar.
  • The steel structure for the false ceilings in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha chambers have been sourced from the union territory of Daman and Diu, while the furniture in the new building was crafted in Mumbai.
  • The stone “jaali” (lattice) works dotting the building were sourced from Rajnagar in Rajasthan and Noida in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The materials for the Ashoka Emblem were sourced from Aurangabad in Maharashtra and Jaipur in Rajasthan, while the Ashok Chakra donning the massive walls of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha chambers and the exteriors of the Parliament building were procured from Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The material used for the new building has been acquired from various parts of the country. The teakwood used in the building was sourced from Nagpur in Maharashtra, while the red and white sandstone was from Sarmathura in Rajasthan. The sandstone for the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb in the national capital was also known to have been sourced from Sarmathura.
  • The Kesharia green stone has been procured from Udaipur, the red granite from Lakha near Ajmer and the white marble has been sourced from Ambaji in Rajasthan.
  • The new Parliament building used manufactured sand or M-sand from Charkhi Dadri in Haryana in the concrete mix for the construction activities.
  • M-Sand is considered environmentally friendly as it is manufactured by crushing large hard stones or granite and not by dredging river beds.
  • The fly ash bricks used in the construction were sourced from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, while brass works and pre-cast trenches were from Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
  • Built at an estimated cost of ₹1200 crore, the new Parliament building can comfortably seat 888 members in the Lok Sabha chamber and 300 in the Rajya Sabha chamber.
  • In the case of a joint sitting of both Houses, a total of 1,280 members can be accommodated in the Lok Sabha chamber.

(With PTI inputs)