Congress takes a swipe at new Parliament building design, BJP hits back

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claims the design is not conducive for the conversations needed for the smooth functioning of Parliament; BJP president J.P. Nadda says the Congress is “anti-Parliament”

September 23, 2023 11:58 am | Updated 07:24 pm IST - NEW DELHI

 An illuminated view of new Parliament and Samvidhan Sadan in New Delhi. File.

An illuminated view of new Parliament and Samvidhan Sadan in New Delhi. File. | Photo Credit: ANI

Two days after the Special Session of Parliament ended, Congress and BJP were caught in a war of words over the new building, which was used for the first time since its inauguration in May. If architecture could kill democracy, Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh said, then the Prime Minister has already succeeded. BJP president J.P. Nadda hit back, labelling the Congress as an “anti-Parliament” party.

The new building, designed by Gujarat architect Bimal Patel, was inaugurated on May 28 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but stood idle through the monsoon session, with no explanation from the government on why the session was not held at the new venue.

Also Read: Lok Sabha adjourns sine die, clock 160% productivity 

‘Discourages conversations’

Taking a swipe at the swanky new building, Mr. Ramesh said that it should be called a “Modi Multiplex” or “Modi Marriot”. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), he lamented that the new design discourages the conversations between Parliamentarians, which are key for the smooth functioning of the two Houses. “If architecture can kill democracy, the PM has already succeeded even without rewriting the Constitution. Binoculars are needed to see each other since the halls are simply not cozy or compact. The old Parliament building not only had a certain aura but it facilitated conversations,” Mr. Ramesh wrote.

Underlining the difference between the two buildings, Mr. Ramesh said that in the old one it was easier to walk between the two Houses. In the new one, “if you lose your way, you are lost in a maze,” he claimed, adding, “The old building gave you a sense of space and openness while the new one is almost claustrophobic.”

‘No consultations done’

Mr. Ramesh also pointed out that members of the Parliament secretariat have also complained that the design of the new building has not considered the various functionalities required to help them do their work. “This is what happens when no consultations are done with the people who will use the building. Perhaps a better use for the new Parliament building will be found after regime change in 2024,” he concluded.

Irked by Mr. Ramesh’s criticism, the BJP president said, “Even by the lowest standards of the Congress Party, this is a pathetic mindset. This is nothing but an insult to the aspirations of 140 crore Indians.” Mr. Nadda added, “In any case, this isn’t the first time Congress is anti-Parliament. They tried in 1975 and it failed miserably.”

Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh also jumped into the fray, demanding that “dynastic dens” all over India need to be assessed and rationalised. His specific emphasis was on 1, Safdarjung Road, which houses the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum, the former PM’s residence and the place where she was assassinated. He argued that the house should be transferred back to the Union government, given that all former Prime Ministers now have a space at the PM Museum.

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