The Congress on Saturday said the new Parliament building should be called “Modi Multiplex” or “Modi Marriot” as its ambience and feel were not suited to parliamentary functioning, triggering a bitter response from the BJP.
Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh issued a statement, saying: “The new Parliament building launched with so much hype actually realises the Prime Minister’s objectives very well. It should be called the Modi Multiplex or Modi Marriot. After four days, what I saw was the death of confabulations and conversations — both inside the two Houses and in the lobbies. If architecture can kill democracy, the Prime Minister has already succeeded even without rewriting the Constitution.”
BJP president J.P. Nadda hit back, saying: “Even by the lowest standards of the Congress party, this is a pathetic mindset. This is nothing but an insult to the aspirations of 140 crore Indians. In any case, this isn’t the first time Congress is anti-Parliament. They tried in 1975 and it failed miserably.”
The sentiment expressed by Ramesh, however, was echoed by many MPs who strongly felt the old building was much more elegant and comfortable and the new one looked more like a glitzy palatial complex than Parliament.
A senior MP told The Telegraph: “We don’t want to create a controversy over this because this is now destined to be our Parliament. But it doesn’t look like one. The lights, sound system and other facilities aren’t perfect. Even the architectural detail is unsuitable for political and intellectual work.”
Another MP said: “Though the transition is usually not easy and our experience is barely four-day-old, the first impression is disturbing. In the old building you sensed that you are in Parliament. The design and look of the new building do not give that feel. It is more like a conference in a five-star hotel. You don’t feel at home. Even some BJP MPs told us the old building had grace and simplicity.”
Ramesh said: “Binoculars are needed to see each other since the halls are simply not cozy or compact. The old Parliament building not only had a certain aura but it facilitated conversations. It was easy to walk between Houses, the Central Hall and the corridors. This new one weakens the bonding needed to make the running of Parliament a success. Quick coordination between the two Houses is now exceedingly cumbersome.”
The Congress leader added: “In the old building, if you were lost, you would find your way back again since it was circular. In the new building, if you lose your way, you are lost in a maze. The old building gave you a sense of space and openness while the new one is almost claustrophobic. The sheer joy of simply hanging out in Parliament has disappeared. I used to look forward to going to the old building. The new complex is painful and agonising.”
He added: “I am sure many of my colleagues across party lines feel the same. I have also heard from the staff in the secretariat that the design of the new building has not considered the various functionalities required to help them do their work. This is what happens when no consultations are done with the people who will use the building. Perhaps a better use for the new Parliament building will be found after regime change in 2024.”