Image Source : PTI Mahatma Gandhi’s statue during relocation within the Parliament premises.

The Congress party on Sunday condemned the move to relocate statues within the Parliament premises, calling it “arbitrary and unilateral.” Party chief Mallikarjun Kharge stated that decisions made without proper discussion violate the rules and traditions of Parliament.

The opposition party claimed that the relocation of statues of national icons like Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar, and Chhatrapati Shivaji was intended to remove them from prominent places where MPs often conducted peaceful protests.

On Sunday, Rajya Sabha chairperson and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar inaugurated the ‘Prerna Sthal’ in the Parliament complex, which now houses these statues. The Lok Sabha secretariat stated that the previous placement of these statues made it difficult for visitors to see them properly.

Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla responds

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla responded to the criticism, asserting that discussions were held with various stakeholders and that the relocation was within the purview of the Office of the Lok Sabha Speaker. “None of the statues have been removed, they have been relocated. There is no need to indulge in politics on this,” Birla said.

In a statement, Congress president Kharge emphasized that the statues of many great leaders were removed from their prominent locations without consultation, violating democratic principles. “The statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar were situated in prominent locations after due deliberation. Each statue and its location across the Parliament House complex holds immense value and significance,” Kharge said.

Kharge highlights symbolic importance of statues

Kharge highlighted the symbolic importance of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a meditative posture in front of the old Parliament Building and the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar, which conveyed a powerful message to parliamentarians. “Removing these statues arbitrarily, without any consultation, violates the basic spirit of our democracy,” he added.

Kharge also pointed out that there is a dedicated committee for installing portraits and statues in the Parliament House Complex, which has not been reconstituted since 2019. He criticised the decision for being made without proper discussion and deliberation with relevant stakeholders.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh echoed Kharge’s sentiments, stating that the decision was taken unilaterally by the ruling regime. Ramesh alleged that the objective was to prevent peaceful protests at traditional sites next to Parliament. He added that the significance of Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations in the Parliament complex would be diminished due to the statue’s relocation.

In defense of the move, the Lok Sabha secretariat explained that ‘Prerna Sthal’ was constructed to allow dignitaries and visitors to conveniently see and pay tribute to these statues in one place. The secretariat also announced plans to use new technology to make the life stories and messages of these leaders available to visitors.

(With PTI Inputs)

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