Indian PM says goodbye to ‘temple of democracy’
Delivering a speech in parliament on Monday on the first day of a five-day special session called by the government, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the country’s latest achievements in space exploration and geopolitical outreach and lauded the 1.4 billion Indians for their role in hosting the G20 summit.
“Credit for the success of the G20 (leaders’ summit) goes to 140 crore Indians. It is the success of Bharat. It is not a success of an individual or a political party,” he said. The prime minister added that “many people have a tendency to be suspicious about India, and this has continued since Independence; this time too, they were confident that there would be no (G20) declaration. However, it was because of India’s strength that it happened.”
Speaking on the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, Modi said that it has “highlighted a new form of India’s strength which is connected to technology, science, the potential of our scientists.” He further remarked that India’s lunar mission has “not only made India but the world proud.”
Ruminating on the history of the old parliament building over the last 75 years, since the Constituent Assembly of India had held its first meeting in December 9, 1946, Modi, who spoke at the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, highlighted memorable speeches of former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“This is the House in which PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech of the ‘stroke of the midnight hour’ echoed on the day of Independence,” Modi said, before recalling a famous speech by Vajpayee in which he said that “governments will be formed, governments will fall. But the country will remain, democracy will remain.” The mood then turned somber as Modi recalled the three Indian prime ministers – Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, and Jawahar Lal Nehru – who died during their tenures. “The Parliament shed tears,” said Modi.
Among key decisions taken in the old parliament building highlighted by Modi are those that were seen as major successes by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, including the abrogation of Article 370, which revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, and others.
Starting on Tuesday, the five-day special session will be held in the new building inaugurated by Modi this past May. “We might be shifting to the new building but this building will keep on inspiring the coming generation. As it is a golden chapter of the journey of Indian democracy,” the prime minister said. Addressing the media ahead of the special session, he stated “we have to make this country a developed country in 2047 with new resolve, new energy, new faith and within the time limit. All the decisions in the near future will be made in this new Parliament building. Therefore, this session is crucial in many ways.”
Earlier this month, the BJP-led government sprang a surprise when it announced a special parliamentary session. Up to eight bills are scheduled for deliberation and potential approval, including one concerning the appointment of the chief election commissioner and election commissioners, Indian media reported on Monday. This bill was presented in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, in the previous session of the parliament and has faced resistance from the opposition. There has also been speculation surrounding the possibility of the government unveiling unexpected legislative proposals during the five-day session.