Modi govt relocating Parliament statues out of frustration: Congress

Statues of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mahatma Gandhi, and B.R. Ambedkar have been relocated within the new Parliament complex

The Mahatma Gandhi statue (photo: @Jairam_Ramesh/X)
The Mahatma Gandhi statue (photo: @Jairam_Ramesh/X)

NH Political Bureau

In a move that has stirred controversy, statues of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr B.R. Ambedkar have been relocated from their prominent positions within the new Parliament complex.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Delhi, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera on Friday said “all this was done out of frustration, because when Narendra Modi said no one knew Gandhi before the release of the (1982) film Gandhi, and when the public reacted, Gandhiji's statue was removed.

“When we launched a campaign to save the Constitution in the elections, to vent our anger, the statue of Ambedkarji was pushed back somewhere. Then when the people of Maharashtra gave a befitting reply in the elections, to take revenge, the statue of Shivaji Maharaj was removed,” Khera said.

A day after the relocation, Congress MP and general-secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh accused the Modi government of attempting to stifle Opposition voices by shifting the statues, since these have become the sites for peaceful protests outside Parliament over the decades.

Ramesh suggested that the strategic relocation was a deliberate effort to undermine spaces traditionally used for peaceful and democratic protests against the government. "This is a clear attempt by the Modi regime to silence dissent and prevent the Opposition from staging protests in front of Parliament," he posted on social media.

For the past decade, these statues have been significant rallying points for various political parties, including the Congress, TDP, and JDU, to express their grievances and opposition to government policies. "Clearly the incoming ek-tihai (one-third) PM wants no place next to where Parliament meets where protests, even in a Constitutional manner, against him and his Govt can take place," Ramesh wrote.

Saying that "NO discussion with any political party on these shifts" were held, Ramesh posted. "Rattled by photographs of these shifts that were also put out, late last night, well after 8.00 pm, the Lok Sabha Secretariat was forced to issue a wholly bogus and clearly manufactured explanation for the shift."

All the statues, including Mahatma Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar and Chhatrapati Shivaji and those of tribal leader Birsa Munda and iconic Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap, are now clustered together at one spot between the old Parliament building and the Parliament library.

Government sources claimed that the government is redeveloping the area and is building a 'statue park'.