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While Congress party opposes new parliament building, its Lok Sabha speaker had approved the project in 2012. Read details

Congress leader and former Lok-Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had asked the urban development ministry to initiate the process of construction of a new parliament building

In a major embarrassment to the Congress party that has been attacking PM Modi for laying the foundation stone for the new Parliament building, a document has surfaced showing that the Congress leader and former Lok-Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had given approval for the building in 2012. Times Now has accessed a letter of an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the ex-Lok Sabha Speaker sent to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The letter stated that the Speaker has given approval for the construction of new Parliament building and that she said that the issue should be given top priority.

The letter was sent by the OSD to the then secretary of the urban development ministry on July 13, 2012 when Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre. The letter read, “The Parliament building was constructed in the 1920s and commissioned in 1927 has been declared Heritage Grade-I building. Over the decades on account of ageing and over-use the Parliament House building started showing the signs of distress at various places. The present sitting capacity of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is likely to go up after 2026”.

Copy of the letter written by Meira Kumar approving a new Parliament building

The letter further stated that if Women’s Reservation Bill was passed the strength of the Lok Sabha might go up even before 2026. “The seat is Lok Sabha may go up before 2026 also if Women’s Reservation Bill providing for augmented strength is passed by the Parliament. In such a scenario it will be necessary to have a new Lok Sabha chamber with larger sitting capacity”, the letter read.

The letter asked the urban development ministry to give suitable instructions to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) to identify an area in the proximity to the Parliament House Complex and to find a suitable location for constructing a state of the art new Parliament building.

Congress had boycotted the stone-laying ceremony of the new Parliament building

Congress party had boycotted the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the new Parliament building on December 10. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had performed the Bhumi Pujan of the new Parliament building but no Congress leader participated in the event. In order to strike a chord with the protesting ‘farmers’, the Congress party had criticised the Prime Minister for laying the foundation stone at a time when the ‘farmers’ were protesting against the farm laws. Taking a dig at the Prime Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala, the Chief Spokesperson of the Congress party, said that history would remember that when farmers were fighting for their rights by protesting on streets, Prime Minister Modi was busy laying the foundation stone of the new Parliament.

“Dear PM, Parliament is not mortar and stones, It envisions democracy, It imbibes Constitution, It is economic-political-social equality, It is compassion and camaraderie, It is the aspirations of 130 crore Indians. What would a building built upon trampling of these values represent?”, Surjewala had tweeted.

The Bhumi Pujan ceremony of the new Parliament building had irked the ‘secular’ forces in the country. Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra had expressed displeasure on the Bhumi Pujan saying that the Prime Minister of a country should lay the foundation stone and not perform Bhumi Pujan, in a ‘secular’ multi-faith democracy.

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