“Reconquest” appears to be the latest buzzword for some quarters whose guts are in a churn because of the Central government’s, or to be precise the Narendra Modi administration’s ambitious Central Vista project, wherein the country’s capital will not only have a new and much expanded Parliament building, but the entire Central Vista, India’s central administrative area located at Raisina Hill, New Delhi. The project is scheduled between 2020 and 2024, aiming to revamp a 3 kilometre Rajpath between India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan, convert North and South Blocks to publicly accessible museums by creating a new common Central Secretariat to house all ministries, a new Parliament building near the present one with increased seating capacity for future expansion, new residences for the Vice-President and Prime Minister near the North and South Blocks. Some of the older structures are slated to be redone as museums.
The project has commenced with the ceremonial laying of the new foundation stone of the new Parliament building in December 2020. And predictably enough, the Nehruvian world is in turmoil. Its angst has been lent recent articulation the form of a write-up by one of its lesser known acolytes Arjun Appadurai in an opinion piece in the Wire (ah! Once again so very predictable) on May 25, “Ripping Apart the Central Vista is Nothing Short of the Reconquest of Delhi”. For good measure, the writer compares the proposed project to the takedown of the illegitimate Babri Masjid structure on December 6, 1992.
The outcry against the Modi administration’s intent to renovate the Central Vista bespeaks eschatological delusions. Appadurai breezily alleges—with no substantiation whatsoever, as is the wont of every Leftist and self-declared Liberal—that he has not seen “a regime that hates the Capital so deeply while also desiring its political capital” (sic). The purported reason for this ‘hatred’ according to this columnist is that Delhi has a ‘beautiful’ geography, whose beauty is entirely Islamic in content. More to the point, this ‘beauty’ is sought to be captured and articulated in the form of its Muslim monuments and ‘culture’, which themselves are the product of the invasion and conquest of Hindu India. Lest there be any lingering doubt on this score, blatantly anti-national political mobilization like the Shaheen Bagh agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are sought to be included under this rubric of a supposed beauty and culture that a hostile BJP government has targeted for erasure.
Lutyens Delhi and by natural extension, Nehruvian India, is worried and understandably so. And as India’s pre- and post-independence history has amply shown, this is a cabal that has specialized in outright falsehood and ideological subversion to worm its way to power and hang on to it for not a mere couple of years, but for decades together; six and a half decades to be precise, before its ill-gotten hold over the polity dissipated in 2014 with the historic mandate bequeathed by the people of India to Narendra Damodardas Modi. The contempt and hatred the Lutyens world harbours for Modi was apparent even when he was chief minister of Gujarat and has only intensified after his election as Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy. The cavalier manner in which Appadurai seeks to brush away this unimpeachable democratic mandate, in 2014 and again in 2019, proves (if proof were required) that respect for democracy or the genuine will of the people has no place in the world of those intrinsically hostile to democracy and any vestige of freedom, though paying incessant lip service to these ideals.
Before we proceed, an examination of the actual dynamics of the Central Vista extension is essential, not in the least because of the allegations of expenditure of public money being leveled at the Modi government. The proposed new Parliament building is not a brainchild of this BJP government. Its plan had been proposed and drawn up during the previous UPA regime, and was slated to cost the Indian taxpayer Rs. 3,900 crores. For the record, the construction of a new Parliament House had been envisaged during UPA-II. The then Lok Sabha Speaker Ms. Meira Kumar had recommended the constitution of a high-powered committee to suggest an alternative complex for Parliament; the reason cited was increased footfall. Appadurai, like the rest of his tribe, isn’t comfortable with facts. The Modi government will be spending no more that Rs 861 crores on the new Parliament House. The tale doesn’t cease here. The Sonia-Manmohan regime, the darling of the Liberals, had intended to construct the new Parliament building over a built up area of 30,000 sq ft at its original declared cost of Rs. 3,900 crores. The same project under the Modi government will now cover 65,000 sq ft at only Rs.860 crores, a saving of Rs 3,040 crores plus the addition of 35,000sq ft area.
The real reasons for the objections of the Nehru-Gandhi khandan’s acolytes, and their innumerable hangers-on living and thriving overseas, like the writer of this calumnious diatribe, need to be laid bare. Arjun Appadurai along with numerous other apologists of the ousted dispensation, has alleged, again with no evidence, that Lutyens-era buildings are going to be bulldozed under the proposed renovation. First, some cold facts: Rashtrapati Bhavan, the present Parliament House, India gate, North and South Blocks are not going under the bulldozer. The ravages of Covid-19 are being cited to question the ‘timing’ of the Central Vista extension, deliberately ignoring the saving in both costs and space by the Modi administration. But that apart, it needs to be iterated here that construction projects have been exempt from Covid restrictions in all the states of the country. Maharashtra, which was already a cash-starved state and is one of the worst-handled in managing the pandemic, has recently issued a Rs.900 crore tender for the redevelopment of the MLA hostel at Nariman Point in Mumbai. We can be sure that these and other similar examples will not show up on the radar of Appadurai and his gaggle. It just doesn’t suit their narrative.
The opposition of the Congress party to the project is driven solely by its desire for preservation of its misappropriation of prized parts of the Capital’s geography. Even if one ignores the forcible naming of hundreds of institutions in the country after members of the Nehru dynasty, the stark reality is that the family will be deprived of its substantial sources of finance, which accrue from rent from many Lutyens building owned by them via proxies. To take just one example of Congress subterfuge on the Indian taxpayer, it was the dynasty that converted the original Prime Ministerial residence of Teen Murti into the Nehru Memorial Museum after Nehru’s demise in 1964. Currently, central ministries operate in rented buildings all over Delhi which of course, affects productivity. But more important is that fact that the annual rent of these rented buildings runs into hundreds of crores. The reality of who owns these building, directly or indirectly has yet to be brought to the fore. It is a safe bet to state Left-Liberals who shout themselves hoarse over the current Central projects do so only to keep the spotlight from shining on such acts of dispossession of India’s people by the Nehruvian establishment, who are the Left’s real masters.
There is more than just mathematic behind the ‘secular’ opposition to the Central Vista project. Delimitation is due in 2026, an exercise that will increase the number of seats to Parliament by redrawing the boundaries of the Lok Sabha and Assembly segments. The number of seats has remained more or less the same since the last delimitation exercise was carried out in 1976—and that is nearly half a century ago— based on the 1971 census, while India’s population is certainly not the same. It certainly is no rocket science to discern that the current 543 Lok Sabha seats do not represent India the way Parliament should.
Following the proposed delimitation, expansion and renovation, India will have 1,000 Members of Parliament in place of 543 as a bigger parliament will allow for pending reforms. There is more; a single metro connecting all ministries will stop data theft as files keep moving around Delhi for approval from various ministries. All offices being in same location connected by a circular metro will avoid huge transport cost of the Government of India. Public space will remain same as the government will uses encroached parking spaces to build structures with basement parking. A nuclear bunker is also part of the plan; the new buildings themselves will be safer with earthquake resistance features. For all the hue and cry about the PM’s new residence, the Prime Minister will stay on the same road, whereby VIP movement making life of commuters difficult, will decline. Around 60,000 central government employees will be able to contribute better work productivity due to better services, easier transport connectivity and less loss of time consumed in moving between offices.
Needless to say, a government that wants to make India a prosperous nation cannot achieve this objective if its own offices are in bad shape. That these changes and the new landscape will also change outlook of visitors to India is a given.
Precisely the kind of change the Left-Liberals hate from the very innards. Lest anyone harbor any doubts on this score, Appadurai’s diatribe wherein he invokes all shades of anti-Hindu and anti-national forces to make common cause to stand up and if possible, stall the Central Vista project is revealing. The columnist’s great shining hopes rest on the likes of Mamata Banerjee, Pinarayi Vijayan and M.K. Stalin—who are crowned with the moniker of ‘progressive public forces’—all regional satraps, in whom any commitment to one India is at best, ephemeral, if at all it does exist. That isn’t all, though; there is unabashed courting of the jihadi rioters of last year’s Delhi riots, the marauding gangs of Shaheen Bagh, the agitating middlemen of Punjab masquerading as farmers, indeed every element to whom a united, strong and prosperous India is anathema. The writer’s open exhortation to “Jat and Sikh populations”, Shaheen Bagh agitators, the non-Hindu North-East, “anti-Modi forces” the appeal to “draw upon the energies of the Bhima-Koregaon” casteist elements, Maoist terrorists under the fanciful label of “tribal communities” leaves nothing much to imagination. This is an open call for war upon India, or to be precise, an India whose ethos is Hindu, which has always been a target for forces inimical to it. The propinquity of The slew of global anti-Indian coverage over the Modi government’s handling of the second wave of Covid, whereas all facts on the ground and statistics reveal that its handling of the pandemic has been exemplary, is no accident. It is the anti-Hindu ecosystem at furious work.
Arjun Appadurai’s flailing against ‘reconquest’ seeks to mask a forceful reality. The current Delhi for which the Left-Liberal ecosystem sheds such copious tears is itself the product of conquest, first by Islamists and later the British and their ideological heir the Nehruvian Left. All three have common foe—Hindu society. The story of present-day Delhi is one long, grim saga of the forcible erasure of Indraprastha’s Hindu identity, the forcible occupation of its territory and the ceaseless attempts at effacing any trace of its Hindu past and heritage. For the first ever time after 1947, the nation has elected a leader who is truly reflective of the will of not only the majority of its people, but also of the nation’s fundamental ethos. Little wonder the usurpers of the past are up against him in unison.
Another fundamental aspect which the nation ought not lose sight of is the principle of reconquest. The world over, peoples and nations that have triumphed over their aggressors and tormentors have purposefully erased the symbols of their national defeats and humiliation by destroying or rebuilding edifices which conquerors had specifically targeted with the aim of extinguishing their victims’ culture and identity. Peoples and nations uprooted from their past are easy targets for the final kill, which is the ultimate goal of expansionist ideologies. The Marathas, who militarily vanquished the alien Mughals and reconquered Delhi for Hindus in 1737 AD erred in not completely replacing the latter, instead letting them stay on the throne as pensioners of Pune. This error came back to haunt the Marathas later. We must resolve not to repeat the error.