Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the new Parliament building, for which the ground-breaking ceremony was held, would channel and reflect the aspirations of 21st century India.
The ceremony was attended by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Harivansh, Union Minister Hardeep Puri and Pralhad Joshi along with senior members of the Union Cabinet, diplomats, and Members of Parliament. The ceremony included an all-faith prayer as well, while priests from the Sringeri Math, Karnataka, did the rituals.
Mr. Modi said, “The new building will be the amalgamation of the new and the ancient, and reflects also the spirit of fostering change in oneself adapting to changing circumstances. Our Constitution was framed and given to us in the current parliament building and it is the repository of much of our democratic legacy but it is important to be realistic as well. Over the last 100 years, several modifications have been made to the current building to the point where even the building requires rest. Which is why the decision was taken to construct a new Parliament building”.
The Prime Minister spoke of some of the new features added to the new building, including a space where people from constituencies could meet their MPs on visiting the building, something lacking in the current building.
Mr. Modi called upon MPs to keep the spirit of optimism alive around democracy by being always accountable to people and the Constitution. He spoke of the spirit of conversation and dialogue, quoting the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Devji: “as long as the world exists, conversations must continue”, noting that it was the spirit of democracy, a comment significant with regard to the stalled negotiations between his own government and agitating farmers groups over three farmer-specific laws passed by Parliament in the last session. While there could be disagreements, there cannot be space for disconnect, he pointed out.
Ancient roots of democracy
While pointing out that many nations felt Indian democracy would not last, the country had proven naysayers wrong, especially because of the ancient roots of democracy in India as elaborated in the concept of the 12th century Anubhava Mantapam set up by Basaveshwara; a 10th century stone inscription in a village near Chennai , describing a panchayat mahasabha and its elaborate rules, including the need for members to disclose their income; and the ancient republics of the Lichchavis and Shakyas.
“As a nation we must pledge to keep the spirit of democracy and public service alive,” he observed. “The day isn’t far when the world acknowledges that India is the mother of democracy,” he added.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Puri, whose ministry is the nodal agency for the construction of the new Parliament, said it was hoped that the 2022 Winter Session of Parliament would be held in the new building.