Row Over Relocation Of Parliament’s Gandhi, Ambedkar, Shivaji Statues

Row Over Relocation Of Parliament's Gandhi, Ambedkar, Shivaji Statues

New Delhi:

The members of the 18h Lok Sabha, when they take oath, will do so at a rather different looking Parliament complex. Not only the iconic statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Babasaheb Ambedkar and Chhatrapati Shivaji will no longer be found at their designated spots, the parliament security personnel at the complex will be replaced by the Central Industrial Security Forces. While the first change has raised eyebrows, especially in the Congress, the second has raised concerns about security.

The statues will be moved to a new spot towards the back of the parliament complex, called Prerna Sthal, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has said in a statement.

Announcing a plan to landscape the Parliament grounds, the Lok Sabha Secretariat, in a statement, said: “In the Parliament Complex, statues of great leaders and freedom fighters of the country were installed at different parts of the Complex. Due to their location at different places in the Parliament Complex, visitors were not able to view these statues conveniently. For this reason, all these statues are being respectfully installed in a grand Prerana Sthal in the Parliament House Complex itself.”

“This Prerana Sthal is being developed in such a way that the visitors coming to visit the Parliament complex could easily see the statues of these great leaders and take inspiration from their lives and philosophy,” the statement read.

Protests By Opposition

Newly elected MP from Amethi, KL Sharma, posted the photos of the removal and the denuded spots.

“The statues of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar have been removed from their special places in front of the Parliament House. This is a very cheap and petty act,” read a translation of his post in Hindi.

The 16-ft tall bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi had become iconic, with Opposition MPs choosing it as a protest spot for years.

Protesting against the move, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, in a post on X, said, “Statues of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar have just been removed from their places of prominence in front of the Parliament House. This is atrocious.”

Senior Congress leader Pawan Khera alleged that the statues of Shivaji and Ambedkar were removed because Maharashtra did not vote for the BJP. As they did not get a clean sweep in Gujarat, they removed the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. “Just think, if they had been given 400 seats, would they have spared the Constitution?” read a rough translation of his Hindi post on X, formerly Twitter.

CPI’s D Raja also condemned the move, calling it “arbitrary and unilateral”. “All statues in the Parliament House are erected in the honour of individuals who significantly contributed to our national life,” read his post on X.

Lok Sabha Secretariat Responds

The Lok Sabha Secretariat has pointed out that the Parliament House complex comes under the jurisdiction of the Lok Sabha Speaker and earlier also, statues were shifted inside the complex with the permission of the Speaker.

“It is clear that no statue of any great person has been removed from the Parliament House complex, rather they are being installed in an orderly and respectful manner inside the Parliament House complex,” the statement read.

The Opposition has questioned the haste when a new Speaker is about to take charge.

Congress’s Manickam Tagore, meanwhile said the move to replace parliament security personnel is  an “attack on parliament’s autonomy” and called for the constitution of a joint security committee.

“Shah wants to control Parliament with CISF jawans. 450 parliamentary security personnel are being relieved of their duties during the elections. The first task of the new Speaker should be to constitute a joint security committee otherwise, we may see future incidents like Chandigarh airport,” he added, pointing to the slapping of new MP Kangana Ranaut by a CISF constable at the Chandigarh airport earlier today.

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