Opposition, activists object to muscular, aggressive lions in national emblem

BJP says the national emblem was an exact replica of the one in Sarnath and accused the Opposition of deliberately trying to create one controversy after another for political reasons.

Updated - July 12, 2022 10:37 pm IST

Published - July 12, 2022 04:52 pm IST - New Delhi

A worker walks past the newly inaugurated ‘National Emblem’ installed on the roof of the new parliament building in New Delhi on July 12, 2022.

A worker walks past the newly inaugurated ‘National Emblem’ installed on the roof of the new parliament building in New Delhi on July 12, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the National Emblem on top of the under-construction Parliament building, controversy continued to simmer not just over the ceremony itself, which the Opposition parties said excluded them, but also over the features of the replica of the Ashoka Pillar.

While the Opposition Congress said the lions at the original site in Sarnath were “graceful and regally confident”, the replica over the new Parliament was “menacing” and had an “aggressive posture”. The charge was refuted by Minister for Urban Development Hardeep Puri, who put out a long twitter thread as a clarification stating that the Sarnath Lion Capital was around 1.6 metres high whereas, the emblem atop the Parliament building was 6.5 metres high. He urged Opposition leaders to “have a sense of proportion and perspective”.

Leader of the Congress Legislative Party in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, called attention to what he said were the differences in the two. “Narendra Modi Ji, please observe the face of the Lion, whether it is representing the statue of Great Sarnath or a distorted version of GIR (in Gujarat) lion. Please check it and if it needs, mend the same,” he tweeted. His party colleague, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, objected to not just the Opposition being excluded from the event but also the absence of the phrase “Satyamev Jayate” from the National Emblem.

‘Insult to national symbol’

Rajya Sabha MP and AICC in-charge of communications, Jairam Ramesh, tweeted out pictures of the original Lion Capital at Sarnath and the emblem unveiled by Mr. Modi on Monday to draw out the differences between the two. “To completely change the character and nature of the lions on the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath is nothing but a brazen insult to India’s National Symbol,” he tweeted. The particular objection by the Opposition leaders was on the expression and the visible fangs of the emblem on top of the new Parliament building.

“Original is on the left, graceful, regally confident. The one on the right is Modi’s version, put above the new Parliament building — snarling, unnecessarily aggressive and disproportionate. Shame! Change it immediately,” tweeted Trinamool MP Jawahar Sircar, again reproducing the two pictures.

Mr. Puri refuted the allegations of the Opposition, stating: “Beauty is famously regarded as lying in the eyes of the beholder. So is the case with calm and anger. The original Sarnath emblem is 1.6 metres high whereas the emblem on the top of the new Parliament Building is huge at 6.5 metres height.”

He added that “if an exact replica of the original were to be placed on the new building, it would barely be visible beyond the peripheral rail. The ‘experts’ should also know that the original placed in Sarnath is at ground level while the new emblem is at a height of 33 metres from the ground. One needs to appreciate the impact of the angle, height and scale when comparing the two structures. If one looks at the Sarnath emblem from below it would look as calm and angry as the one being discussed. If the Sarnath emblem was to be scaled up or the emblem on the new Parliament building is reduced to that size, there would be no difference,” he said.

The BJP said the criticism was just another example of “the Opposition criticising for the sake of criticism, creating a controversy where none exists”. BJP’s media cell converner and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni said: “The size of the original and the replica differ and the angle at which the photograph is published in the media may distort the image, If we take pictures of anyone from a bottom-up angle, the image appears different. The Opposition, instead of taking pride in the fact that the country will have a new Parliament House after so many years, and by Indians as a free nation, are creating unnecessary controversies,” he said.

Mr. Chowdhury again spoke on the exclusion of the Opposition from the event. “The solo show of unveiling the national emblem by PM @narendramodi Ji, has already drawn a flurry of questions including constitutional propriety, let alone democratic values. We are all familiar with our PM’s “#Who_Cares_Whom” attitude,” he tweeted.

Again, Mr. Baluni responded to the criticism stating that the Opposition parties “should understand the administrative process”, and that the Urban Development Ministry was handling the entire work and that the foundation of the building was also laid by the Prime Minister. “Once the construction work is completed, the building will be handed over to the Parliament administration,” he said.

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