Kharge writes to LS Speaker, RS Chairman; seeks relocation of Gandhi, Ambedkar statues back

PTI, Jun 19, 2024, 8:20 PM IST

New Delhi: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman over the shifting of statues of Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar and other national leaders to a new location in the Parliament complex and has demanded that they be restored to their original places.

In his letter addressed to Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman, he said the statues of national leaders have been relocated to a separate corner “artbitrarily” without any consultation and this amounts to violation of the basic spirit of democracy.

He said he has written in the context of relocation of statues of major leaders in the Parliament House complex and the statues have been removed from their prominent places and relocated to a separate corner.

“I wish to emphasise at the very threshold that such removal of these statues arbitrarily, without any consultation, violates the basic spirit of our democracy. Needless to mention that the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and other national leaders were situated at prominent locations after due deliberation and consideration. Each statue and its location across the Parliament House complex held immense value and significance,” Kharge said in his letter sent separately to the Speaker and RS Chairman.

He said the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a meditative posture originally installed on October 2, 1993 in front of the old Parliament building held immense significance for India’s democratic polity.

Over the decades, this space had assumed sacrosanct value and members of Parliament (MPs) as well as visitors paid their respects to Mahatma Gandhi imbibing within themselves the spirit of the Mahatma.

“It is at this place that Members sought to voice concerns of the people in a democratic manner to draw the attention of the government seeking due redressal,” he noted.

In this context, he also drew the attention to the statue of Ambedkar which was installed on April 2, 1967 in the Parliament House precincts and its placement facilitated seamless movement of people paying their tributes to him on his birth and death anniversaries.

“The location of the statue had also proved to be quite convenient vis-à-vis general public’s movement and security concerns. The vantage point at which the statue was installed as well as the posture of the statue held great significance,” the Congress chief said.

The message which the statue of Babasaheb sought to convey was to extol the generations of parliamentarians to steadfastly hold on to values and principles enshrined in the Constitution of India, he said.

Kharge, in his letter, recalled that during his student days in mid-1960s he was at the forefront of demanding installation of the statue in the precincts of the Parliament House and noted that such concerted efforts eventually resulted in installing of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue at the place where it was hitherto before 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 said.

The Congress chief, who is also the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, pointed out that there is a dedicated committee for installing portraits and statues of national leaders and MPs in the Parliament House Complex – “Committee on the Installation of Portraits and Statues of National Leaders and Parliamentarians in the Parliament House Complex” but the panel 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. Therefore, I demand that the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and other national leaders who greatly contributed for the unity and integrity of our nation must be relocated to their original locations with due respect and regard,” he wrote.

The Congress has taken strong objection to the shifting of the statues.

The opposition parties have often held protest marches and agitations within the Parliament complex before the statues of Gandhi and Ambedkar.

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