New Parliament, Sengol and boycott by Opposition

PM Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament complex on Sunday

Sengol 'Sengol', a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu that will be installed in the new Parliament building | PTI

On May 28, the historical ‘Sengol’ will be permanently installed in the new Parliament. Union Minister Amit Shah, addressing a press conference on May 24, announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be handed the sceptre during the inauguration. 

The sceptre is considered to be significant historical symbol of independence. According to reports, the ‘Sengol’ signified the transfer of power from British India to Independent India in 1947. India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was presented with the spectre from Tamil Nadu to symbolically represent the transfer of power and was since then kept in the Nehru Gallery of Allahabad Museum. The spectre has now been moved to Delhi for its installation in the new parliament building. The Indira Gandhi National Center of Arts had recently requested a replica of the ‘Sengol’ from the original makers for use in a documentary. The replica will be kept for public display while the original moves.

The word ‘Sengol’ comes from a combination of the Tamil words ‘Semmai’ meaning righteousness or prosperity and ‘Kol’ meaning stick. 

In an interview with ANI, Jitendra Vummidi, great-grandson of the original craftsman, said the 75-year-old Sengol was created to represent the Chola dynasty's tradition of handing over power to new kings. The 5ft long and two-inch thick gold-plated sceptre is made of silver, engraved with intricate designs, and an image of goddess Lakshmi and adorned with a Nandi bull on top. The Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers first chanced upon this surprising discovery in 2019. Vummidi Bangru Chetty told ANI that the artisan who originally crafted the sceptre passed away years ago.

The Print, quoting the Vummidi family reported that they discovered about the sceptre's links to their family after a Tamil weekly magazine reported about it. The family eventually made efforts to trace the historic Sengol and finally unearthed the truth behind the sceptre in 2020, mislabeled for years as Nehru’s ‘Golden walking stick’ at Allahabad Museum. A one-minute video uploaded on their website caught the attention of the prime minister and after the facts were verified they were approached by the government. Amerandran Vummidi, a member of the family, also lamented the fact that most records and information regarding their rich history of jewellery and craftsmanship were lost during the 1965 Gold Control Act.

Despite wide media coverage, the Opposition is questioning the credibility of the 'sources' cited by the government regarding the sceptre and its history. The government asserts that it was Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India who suggested that Nehru hold a ceremony to signify the transfer of power from the British to India. However, there is no evidence that this particular sceptre was first symbolically handed to Mountbatten, who later passed it on to Nehru or that this sceptre signified the 'transfer of power’. 

Nirmala Sitaraman, Union Finance Minister told presspersons recently at Chennai that this was a matter of pride for the people of Tamil Nadu as they had a 'big proud part' to play. As it was this ritual of handing over the sceptre by the Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam that symbolised the transfer of power to Independent India, she said. According to reports, when asked about the evidence regarding the claim, the evidence presented were majorly then media reports, references from books, and even social media posts. The centre is also being accused of using the story behind the sceptre for political gains in Tamil Nadu.

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