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New Parliament building, now Sengol: How Opposition politicians have been focusing on needless controversies instead of doing their jobs

The I.N.D.I. Alliance following ten years in opposition and three unsuccessful efforts to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has reverted to its old strategies of raising frivolous issues to criticize the recently elected administration, instead of making better use of their time. Now, they have picked ‘Sengol‘ which was installed next to the speaker’s chair in Lok Sabha as a symbol of India’s sovereignty to demonstrate their lack of genuine concerns and demanded its removal from the newly constructed Indian parliament.

Samajwadi Party MP RK Chaudhary wrote to pro-tem speaker Bhartruhari Mahtab on 25th June and questioned its presence in the parliament. He stated, “Today, I took oath in this honourable chamber that ‘I will bear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of India as by law established’ but I was shocked to see the ‘Sengol’ on the right side of the chair of the house. The constitution is a sacred document and the symbol of India’s democracy while ‘Sengol’ is a symbol of monarchy.”

Chaudhary added, “In its previous tenure, the BJP government under the leadership of PM Modi installed ‘Sengol’ in parliament. ‘Sengol’ means ‘Raj-Dand.’ It also means ‘Raja ka Danda.’ After ending the princely order, the country became independent. Will the country be run by ‘Raja ka Danda’ or the constitution? Our parliament is a temple of democracy, not a palace of some king or royal. I demand that ‘Sengol’ be removed from parliament and replaced by a large replica of the constitution.”

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav supported his party leader and claimed, “When ‘Sengol’ was installed, the Prime Minister had bowed to it but he forgot to bow while taking oath this time. I think our MP wanted to remind him about it.” Senior Congress leader and MP B Manickam Tagore echoed the same sentiment and voiced, “We have been very clear that the ‘Sengol’ symbolises kingship and the kingdom-era is over. We should celebrate the people’s democracy and the constitution.” Rashtriya Janata Dal MP and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti also declared, “Whosoever has demanded this, I welcome it.”

RJD Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha too joined the chorus and alleged, “We had protested and said that ‘Sengol’ is a symbol of the monarchy when it was being installed in the parliament. Our PM has the conduct of the kings.” He then brought up issues including jewellery, dresses, mangalsutra and mujra among others which were used by the prime minister to expose the opposition during his election campaign. The parliamentarian then added, “Now, only these topics will be discussed in the country. It is better to put a big replica of the constitution there which will run the nation.”

Notably, the Congress, its ideological sister parties and their ecosystem have historically found a profound delight in demeaning India’s cultural and historical symbols in the name of democracy, secularism, and the constitution and ‘Sengol’ was no exception. Interestingly, they never find any other religion or its symbol to be at odds with India’s democracy. 

How Congress reduced ‘Sengol’ to a mere walking stick

Lord Mountbatten asked Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, over the appropriate cultural symbol to signify the transfer of power when it was agreed that the British would cede control to the Indians and end their colonial rule. The latter took some time and spoke with C Rajagopalachari about the issue who informed Jawaharlal Nehru about the ‘Sengol’ after reading several books on history. The ‘Sengol’ was then sent to the first prime minister of India by the head of the Thiruvaduthurai Mutt Sri La Sri Ambalavana Desika Swamigal, who agreed to its use as a symbol of power.

The practice was evocative of the ancient customs of the Chola dynasty where it was customary for spiritual leaders known as Samayacharyas to oversee the crowning of kings and sanctify the transfer of power, a symbolic gesture of approval for the ruler. The sceptre received by Pandit Nehru was crafted from silver and plated with gold, on a special order from the Adheenam. This was handcrafted by jeweler Vummidi Bangaru Chetty in Madras and served as a replica of the original ‘Sengol’ however, it was highly revered as it symbolised the glorious tradition of the great Chola empire.

The sacred sceptre, shockingly, was soon forgotten and was housed as “Jawahar Lal Nehru’s golden walking stick” at a Prayagraj museum. The true origins and reasons for a significant artifact being displayed in a museum as a walking stick remained unknown, but it has now been rightfully recognized and honoured in the new Parliament under the Modi government. However, gauging from the actions of the Congress-led opposition in the present, it is evident how a momentous symbol was reduced to a mere footnote in the annals of history during their time as the only centre of authority in the nation.

Opposition and their persistent tendency to inflate non-issues

The opposition, in their eagerness to attack the Bharatiya Janata party-led National Democratic Alliance, has resorted to making absurd accusations instead of focusing on real problems and offering constructive criticism. The opposition even opposed PM Modi’s ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project which involved the redevelopment of Central Vista Avenue, the area between the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the India Gate. The most significant part of the project was the construction of a new parliament building. Rahul Gandhi in all his wisdom had even tweeted, “Central Vista-not essential. Central Government with a vision-essential.” Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also denounced the administration, charging it with “circumventing” the shutdown.

Ironically, it was the vision of the Modi government which addressed the significant issue of the impending expansion of the parliament owing to the increased population which nearly quadrupled since independence. The Delhi High Court and Supreme Court also denied petitions against the project, further embarrassing the opposition. In another display of utter ignorance or perhaps goodwill for India’s British rulers, the opposition even slammed the government for renaming “Rajpath” which meant Kingsway to “Kartavya Path” which translates to the path of duty.

Opposition had issues with the lions in the national emblem installed over the new parliament building

The mockery of Indian voters who elected their representatives to address important matters reached new heights when opposition leaders suggested that the lions in the national emblem which was erected on top of the new parliament building were “fiercer and had sharper teeth” in comparison to the original statue in Sarnath. The politicians and their lackeys charged that the lions looked angry whereas they should be ‘peaceful’ and ‘calm’ and accused the Modi government of changing the national emblem.

They appeared to have overlooked the fact that although lions belong to the feline family, they are not ‘calm and peaceful’. They are fierce predators, endowed by nature with strong fangs, loud roar and a penchant for killing.

How can anyone disregard the Congress-led opposition’s unrelenting push against electronic voting machines (EVMs) while disregarding their own inadequacies? During the NDA parliamentary meeting in New Delhi, PM Modi also made a jab at the opposition and expressed, “When the results were being announced on 4 June, I was engrossed in work. Later, I started receiving phone calls. I asked someone if the numbers were acceptable and jokingly inquired whether the EVM was still ‘alive.’ I anticipated the opposition might declare the ‘death’ of the EVM this time”

He further remarked, “These people had resolved to undermine public confidence in India’s democracy and electoral process. They continuously criticized the EVMs. I expected they would hold a ‘funeral procession’ for the EVM. However, by the evening of 4 June, they were silenced. The EVMs shut them up.”

The never-ending drama surrounding the Dassault Rafale deal is another testament to the opposition’s thrust for wasting the country’s time and resources, both inside and outside of parliament. Unsurprisingly, the matter culminated in Rahul Gandhi’s unconditional apology to the Supreme Court for attributing his political slogan “Chowkidar Chor Hai” to the court. He shamelessly twisted the judgment to claim that the top court declared Prime Minister Narendra Modi guilty of corrupt practices in the purchase of the Rafale aircraft.

The opposition even adopted the same tactics when the Hindenburg Research Report on Gautam Adami came out. They disrupted the parliament by raising a commotion throughout the session, demanding the creation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the matter. The opposition coalition, led by Rahul Gandhi, has been leading the assault against the Adani group, primarily based on reports from international media. The Gandhi scion alleges that every penny spent on anything, from power to farming, goes into the billionaire’s account while states ruled by Congress openly invite him to do business with them and offer him contracts worth millions of dollars.

Conclusion

The opposition covered every topic to malign the Modi government and gain brownie points, including the ‘Pegasus snooping’ claim, the contentious BBC documentary on PM Modi and Apple’s threat notification, which also turned out to be a dud. However, they have failed to see the wider picture for which they were appointed to parliament or their primary objective, which is to serve the public interest, in their attempt to engage in small-scale politics to advance narrow political goals or grab media headlines.

Unfortunately, the opposition leaders won’t consider having 237 MPs in the Lok Sabha as a golden opportunity to work for their constituency, rather, they will perceive it as a promotion of their divisive and corrupt politics which will only serve to reinforce their motivation to continue engaging in the same behaviour, as showcased by the Samajwadi Party MP’s recent “remove Sengol” demand.

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