Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated a new parliament building in New Delhi in a grand ceremony boycotted by more than a dozen opposition parties.
Modi opened the new parliament house, which he called “a cradle of empowerment”, on Sunday by offering prayers as Hindu priests chanted religious hymns at the start of the ceremony.
“The new parliament isn’t just a building; it is the symbol of the aspiration of the 140 crore [1.4 billion] people of India,” Modi said in an address after the inauguration, which comes a year before parliamentary elections in the world’s most populous nation and as Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeks a third term in office.
“This new complex will be evidence of self-reliant India,” he said.
The new parliament building is part of plan by Modi’s Hindu nationalist government to revamp British colonial-era architecture, including the old parliament building, which will likely be converted into a museum.
Historian Mridula Mukherjee says the old parliament building is more Indian than the new one.
“The colonial era buildings that they are referring to … built in the 1920s had incorporated many elements of India architecture. It wasn’t a pure western architectural model at all,” Mukherjee told Al Jazeera from New Delhi.
“In fact, in my opinion the new building does not have anything much to commend it in terms of aesthetics… there is nothing Indian about it.
“What is more important is that the whole thing is being done in a manner which is very arbitrary. Right from the conception of this building, architects, designers and planners have been objecting to it – but their dissent and objections have been brushed aside.”
Opposition parties criticised the event, saying the prime minister had sidelined President Droupadi Murmu, who has only ceremonial powers but is the head of state and highest constitutional authority. (AlJazeera)