In speech of conciliation, PM Modi lauds Nehru

In speech of conciliation, PM Modi lauds Nehru

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  • September 19, 2023
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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened a special session of Parliament on Monday with an emotive speech, for the last time from the old Parliament house, in which he paid rich tributes to the country’s democratic traditions and recalled contributions of all former prime ministers—Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Manmohan Singh—and said the colonial-era premises will remain a “source of inspiration” and “place of pilgrimage” for all time to come.

Future proceedings of Parliament will commence from a modern building complex next to the old one, which Modi inaugurated in May this year. It is the centrepiece of a grand project to remake a key British-era building with a distinct Indian character in the heart of the national capital.

“We have undertaken a journey of 75 years, and as we bid goodbye to this Parliament house, we must remember that though this House was built by the colonial government, it was built by our sweat and toil, by our countrymen and with our money,” Modi said.

In a surprise announcement on 1 September, the Modi government called a special session from 18 September to 22 September, with five sittings, offering no specific reason.

Modi said whether it was the non-aligned movement or the G20, the country and the house have acted unanimously. “G20’s success is not the success of one man or one party but this entire country.”

Earlier, customarily briefing reporters ahead of the session’s opening, Modi said the special session was “going to be short but historic”. “From President Kalam to Kovind to Murmu, from Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Manmohan Singh, whoever has been part of this Parliament, they have toiled to take the nation forward.”

Modi said leaving the current building was an emotional moment for him. “Just like a family is filled with memories when they leave an old house to step into a new, our hearts are filled with emotions.”

Construction of a new parliament building began on 10 December 2020, when Modi laid the foundation stone and called the building an inherent part of a “self-reliant India”. The old building will be converted into a museum, the government had said.

Aside from being equipped with modern technology, the new building has a total of 1,272 seats in its two chambers, nearly 500 more than the old one and at least four times as much space, according to the Centre.

In a speech spanning an hour and 20 minutes, Modi struck a conciliatory note in an address that reached out to all political ideologies and formations. He recalled various political epochs in a journey spanning 75 years, a multitude of political movements and their leaders, contributions of all prime ministers, speakers of the House and MPs.

Modi said over 75 years, Parliament had become progressively more inclusive, with representatives from all communities and sections, including Dalits, backwards and women.

In a rare acknowledgement, Modi spoke at length about Nehru and his cabinet, as well as other Congress prime ministers. “Who wouldn’t clap at the mention of Pandit Nehru’s contribution. Pandit Nehru’s ‘stroke of the midnight hour’ (speech) will always remain an inspiration. As Atal-ji said, governments will come and go, but the country has to remain forever.”

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Updated: 19 Sep 2023, 12:24 AM IST

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