Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday, June 19, wrote to the Lok Sabha speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar, urging them to relocate the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, and other national leaders to their original location in the Parliament complex.

Relocate statues of Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, and other national leaders to original locations,” Mallikarjun Kharge wrote in the letter.

Congress leader Kharge alleged that the statues were removed arbitrarily and “without consultation.” Kharge further said the act “violates the basic spirit of our democracy.”

Kharge, in his letter, mentioned that there is a Committee for installing portraits and statues of national leaders and MPs in the Parliament House Complex. “However, the committee lamentably has not been reconstituted since 2019. Hence, such decisions made without any proper discussion and deliberation with relevant stakeholders are against the rules and traditions of our Parliament,” Kharge wrote in his letter. 

Expressing discontent about the relocation of the statues of Mahatama Gandhi and BR Ambedkar, Kharge further wrote, “Incidentally, during my student days in the mid-1960s, I was at the forefront of demanding installation of the statue in the precincts of the Parliament House. Such concerted efforts eventually resulted in installing Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue at the place where it was hitherto placed.”

“I am constrained to state this with anguish that all this has now been brought to a naught in an arbitrary and unilateral manner,” the Congress leader added.

Several statues, including those of Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, and Chhatrapati Shivaji, have been relocated from their original positions on the Parliament premises to a lawn near the old building. 

All the statues, including those of tribal leader Birsa Munda and Maharana Pratap, are now on the lawn between the old Parliament building and the Parliament Library.

This move, described as part of a landscaping exercise by the Lok Sabha secretariat, has stirred controversy and drawn sharp criticism. Many Opposition leaders have expressed dismay over the decision to shift these iconic statues.

Notably, the Mahatma Gandhi statues on the Parliament premises have seen many Opposition protests in the past decade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance since 2014. Further, in the last couple of years, several dismissed MPs have also chosen to sit in front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, who is seated in a meditative position, to voice their protest. 

Mallikarjun Kharge, in his letter, mentioned that the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a meditative posture was installed initially on October 2, 1993, and held immense significance. 

 

 

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Published: 19 Jun 2024, 03:47 PM IST