On Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will officially open the country’s new parliament complex, the centrepiece of a $2.4 billion project to restore British colonial-era structures in the heart of the capital and give them a distinctively Indian identity.
A year before parliamentary elections, in which Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will run on the strength of its solid Hindu nationalist credentials, in addition to its performance in office over the last ten years, to seek a third term, the inauguration and ongoing transformation of New Delhi’s heart based on Indian culture, traditions, and symbols take place.
Reuters reported that the Modi government has similarly renovated some of Hinduism’s most revered pilgrimage centres since first sweeping to power in 2014.
“The new, triangular-shaped parliament complex is just across from the heritage building built by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker in 1927, two decades before India’s independence,” Reuters said.
The new building, according to Modi, “would become a witness to the creation of a self-reliant India,” underscoring another favourite theme when he announced its construction in December 2020 during the pandemic.
In addition to having modern technology, the new parliament has at least three times as much room and 1,272 seats in total over two chambers, which is nearly 500 more than the previous building.
According to the government, the old parliament building will be converted into a museum.
However, Modi’s detractors consider the new parliament, which was created by an architect from his native Gujarat, as an effort to support his brand of nationalism as part of a personal legacy.
Opposition parties have declared a boycott of the inauguration. The opposition lawmakers argued that Modi should not open the new parliament, but the president, the country’s highest executive, should open the new building.