Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed “historic decisions” – referring to his government’s contentious initiatives on Article 370, the GST, and the ‘One Rank-One Pension’ laws – in his opening remarks on the first day of a special session that would see Parliament relocate to a new facility.
The Prime Minister recounted “bitter-sweet memories” associated with the old building, including the 2001 terror attack, in a lengthy speech that featured barbs at the opposition.
“The House will always say proudly that (the abrogation of) Article 370 became possible due to it… GST was also passed here… ‘One Rank-One Pension’ was witnessed (and) 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections was successfully allowed for the first time without dispute,” he said.
“Bidding goodbye to this building is an emotional moment…many bitter-sweet memories associated with it. We had differences and disputes but we witnessed ‘parivaar bhaav’ (‘feeling of family’),” he continued as MPs from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party thumped their desks in agreement.
“There was a terror attack (on Parliament). This was not an attack on a building…. in a way, it was an attack on the ‘Mother of Democracy’… on our living soul. The country can never forget that incident,” he said as he paid tribute to security personnel who were killed in that attack.
The reference to India as the “Mother of Democracy” was a repeat of what was expressed earlier this month during the G20 conference in Delhi to G20 leaders and foreign diplomats.
The portrayal of India as such caused eyebrows at the time, with many pointing out that it was an accolade normally held for Greece; most historians think the concept (and even the name) of democracy originated around 500 BC in the ancient city-state of Athens, now the Greek capital.
In a nostalgic speech, the Prime Minister remembered his first memories of the old Parliament building.