New Delhi : With the new Parliament building set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there was no let-up in the war of words between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress on Friday over the event and the ceremonial sceptre Sengol was also dragged into the political row.
Prime Minister Modi said the new Parliament building to be inaugurated on Sunday will make every Indian proud and shared a video of the new complex, as several union ministers hit out at the 20 opposition parties including the Congress, Bahujana Rashtra Samithi (BRS-Bahujana) over their decision appealed TDP, YSRCP, to boycott the inauguration ceremony.
PM also urged people to share the video on the social media platform using the hashtag ‘My Parliament My Pride’.
A group of 270 eminent citizens including former bureaucrats, ambassadors and veterans condemned the opposition parties for their decision and claimed that all the ‘family-first’ parties have come together to boycott all that represents India.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, refused to entertain a PIL seeking a direction to the Lok Sabha Secretariat for inauguration of the new Parliament building by President Droupadi Murmu, saying, ‘it is not a function of the court to look into this’.
While Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused the Congress of reducing the Sengol to a ‘walking stick’, BJP president J P Nadda said what connects the boycotting parties is their dynastic leadership whose ‘monarchic’ methods are at loggerheads with the principles of the Constitution.
Shah said the Congress needs to ‘reflect’ on its behaviour as he denounced the party’s claim that there was no evidence of the Sengol being a symbol of transfer of power by the British to India in 1947.
The golden Sengol will be installed near the Chair of the Speaker in the new Parliament building.
‘Why does the Congress party hate Indian traditions and culture so much? A sacred Sengol was given to Pandit Nehru by a holy Saivite Mutt from Tamil Nadu to symbolize India’s freedom but it was banished to a museum as a ‘walking stick’,’ Shah tweeted.
‘Now, Congress has heaped another shameful insult. The Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam, a holy Saivite Mutt, itself spoke about the importance of the Sengol at the time of India’s freedom,’ he said
Congress, he further posted, is calling the ‘Adheenam’s history as BOGUS! Congress needs to reflect on their behaviour’.
The Tamil tradition of a high priest presenting a sceptre to a newly crowned king as a symbolic gesture dates back to the Chola dynasty.
Shah’s remarks came after Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed there was no documented evidence of Lord Mountbatten, C Rajagopalachari and Jawaharlal Nehru describing the Sengol as a symbol of transfer of power by the British to India.
The head of a Tamil Nadu monastery sought to counter Ramesh’s claim, saying the Sengol was handed over to Lord Mountbatten and then it was presented to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947 to symbolise transfer of power from British and wrong claims made in this respect by some people has caused sadness.
Tiruvavaduthurai Aadeenam, Ambalavana Desika Paramacharya Swami said the Sengol that that was away from the gaze of people would now be prominently displayed in Parliament for the world to see.
To a question by reporters in Chennai on any proof for the hand over of the Sengol, the pontiff said there were evidences including photographs and reports that appeared in newspapers and magazines in 1947.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri hit out at the Congress and others who gave the boycott call, saying the ‘boycott gang’ is insulting the legacy of their own leaders and the freedom fighters.
In a series of tweets, Puri cited an old article of the Time magazine published in 1947, which he said was a must read for those who wish they had built the magnificent new Parliament instead of Prime Minister Modi.
Citing the article, Puri said, ‘Vividly describes Hindu (customs and traditions) followed on eve of independence. The #Sengol they insult now was received with Hindu rituals by PM Nehru. Now hypocrisy is on full display- attempts being made to paint it in different colours – motives ascribed, crocodile tears shed!.’
Slamming Jairam Ramesh, Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi alleged that the Congress party has a habit of denigrating ‘Bharatiya’ value and culture.
‘Today when the world is taking note of Bharat’s rich traditions, the Congress party is trying to find new ways to insult Bharat and its heritage. The Congress party still seems to be in a colonial hangover.’
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar described as unfortunate the boycott decision and said there should be a limit to doing politics.
He said the inauguration of the new Parliament building should be celebrated as a festival by the entire nation.
“I believe that the inauguration of the new Parliament building should be taken as a festival of democracy and it should be celebrated in that spirit. It should not be made a subject of controversy. It is unfortunate if it becomes a subject of controversy,” Jaishankar told reporters in Gujarat.
“Some people are trying (to create a controversy). But I believe that there should be a limit to indulging in politics. At least on such occasions, the entire country should come together and celebrate this festival.”
The new Parliament must be inaugurated by the President of India said Bahujana Rashtra Samithi (BRS) Chief MA Mujeeb, There is no law or Article in the Constitution that says the prime minister must inaugurate the new Parliament, but Article 79 of the Constitution says the President of India is the competent person, Mujeeb added.
The opposition parties contend that President Droupadi Murmu should do the honours as she is not only the Head of State, but also an integral part of Parliament as she summons, prorogues, and addresses the institution.
The signatories to the joint statement by eminent citizens slamming the opposition boycott included ex-NIA director Y C Modi, former IAS officers R D Kapoor, Gopal Krishna and Samirendra Chatterjee, and Lingaya University Vice Chancellor Anil Roy Dubey.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena hit out at the at the Centre for not inviting President Murmu for the inauguration event and alleged that Prime Minister Modi considers the new complex his “estate” as he feels that it has been created by him.
Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan wrote to Prime Minister Modi extending his wishes for the inauguration of the new Parliament building and slammed the opposition parties for their boycott decision.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker and senior BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan said Parliament is a temple of democracy and partisan politics should not be played over the institution.
National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah said the new Parliament building was a welcome addition and looks ‘pretty damn impressive’.
Abdullah, whose party is also boycotting the Sunday event, said when he was the member of the Lok Sabha, many of his colleagues often spoke about the need for a new and improved Parliament building.