Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10 December laid the foundation stone for a new parliament complex, saying it will serve India of 21st century. Calling it the beacon of democracy, the Prime Minister said that the previous Parliament house — which was constructed 100 years ago — fulfilled the needs of the country, and the building will fulfill the country’s aspirations and ambitions.
“I can never forget the moment in my life when I had the opportunity to come to Parliament House for the first time in 2014 as an MP. Then before stepping into this temple of democracy, I had bowed my head and saluted this temple of democracy,” Modi said at an address after the groundbreaking ceremony in New Delhi.
“This is a day of pride for over 130 crore Indians when we are witnessing this historic moment. The new parliament building is an example of the co-existence of the new and the old. This is an effort to make changes within oneself in accordance with the time and needs,” he further said.
He then talked about how the new parliament complex will help the legislators as well as those who come to meet them. Modi said that there were space constraints in the old building, but that has been taken care of in the new complex. “The current parliament building is nearly 100 years old; it was upgraded many times, but now it needs rest,” said Modi.
“The old building fulfilled the needs of the country, the new parliament building will fulfill the country’s aspirations. If the old Parliament House gave direction to post-Independence India, the new building would become a witness to the creation of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’,” he added.
The Prime Minister then delved into the democratic history of India, saying the texts available here are older than the Magna Carta, which is considered the foundation of democracy. “Magna Carta was written in the 13th century, but philosopher Basavanna envisioned a people’s parliament in 12th century in the form of Anubhav Mantapa,” said Modi.
“If we go back further, some ancient inscriptions in Tamil Nadu from 10th century talk about categorising villages into groups – like modern day wards. They talked about disqualifying a public representatives from contesting elections. The criteria was to declare the contestants and their relatives’ assets,” he added.
The Prime Minister said it is ironic that other countries teach India about democracy. “When other countries talk about democracy, they only discuss elections and other administrative issues. But in India, democracy is a sacred, a way of life. The democratic system has been developed based on centuries long experiences. There were several changes, but the spirit remained as it is. Ironically, other countries teach is about democracy. I think that day will soon come when out countries will say ‘India is mother of democracy’,” said Modi.
He then emphasised on the spirit of democracy and why it is important. The Prime Minister said that there can be differences, but the ultimate goal should be to serve people.
“We’ll have to take the pledge of ‘India First’. Our decisions should make nation stronger and be measured on the same scale – that nation’s welfare comes first. Our efforts in next 25-26 years should be towards how do we want to see India in 2047, in our 100 years of Independence,” said Modi.
He called upon the political leaders to breathe life in the new building by following the dynamic principles of democracy.
Earlier on 10 December, Modi laid the foundation stone for the new building of parliament. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister for Communication and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad, foreign envoys and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla attended the ceremony.
The new parliament building will cost Rs 971 crore. It is estimated to be completed by 2022. It was the British who had constructed the current parliament building. Its foundation stone was laid on 12 February 1921.
The new building will also have a grand Constitution Hall to showcase India’s democratic heritage, a lounge for Members of Parliament, a library, multiple committee rooms, dining areas and ample parking space. The Lok Sabha chamber will have a seating capacity for 888 members, while Rajya Sabha will have 384 seats, keeping in mind the future increase in the number of members for the two houses.