Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

New Parliament Building

India needs a New Parliament Building and that does mean demolishing the present Parliament House. New Parliament Building can be next to the present Parliament House or somewhere in Delhi or outside Delhi.
Lok Sabha should have at least one representative for a million people. As per census of 2011 India’s population was 121 crore. India should have at least 1210 members in Lok Sabha. The present building is not adequate to house them.
The present Parliament House was built by the British. It was designed by Herbert Baker in 1912. Construction began in 1921. Foundation stone was laid on 12 February 1921. It was known as Central Legislative Assembly. Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, Viceroy and Governor General of India, better known as Lord Irwin, inaugurated the building on 18 January 1927. It had separate halls for Chamber of Princes, State Council, and Central Legislative Assembly. It was built for Colonial India and not Independent India. State Council (Council of States) was created by the Government of India Act 1919. It had 26 nominated members and 34 elected members. The number was increased to 260 in 1937. 156 were from provinces and 104 from princely states. Chamber of Princes was established in 1920. It lasted till 1947. Central Legislative Assembly was created by the Government of India Act 1919. It had 144 members, 103 elected, 41 nominated. The Government of India Act 1935 increased the number of seats but elections to them did not take place. Constituent Assembly dissolved Central Legislative Assembly on 14 August 1947.
When Meira Kumar was the Speaker she had set up a committee to suggest alternatives to the current building. Some MPs opposed change of building.
Now Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has suggested construction of new building saying the present structure shows signs of distress and not able to meet demand for space needed for MPs and staff. Once again there is opposition mainly because Constituent Assembly met in the Central Hall from 9 December 1946 to 26 November 1949 and Independent India’s first cabinet took oath of office in the Central Hall. Sumitra Mahajan should say the present structure will remain as it is and a new structure will be built for Parliament. That will satisfy most MPs. Present structure can be a museum and people can visit and see different halls.
At present there are 543 elected members in Lok Sabha and two nominated members. As per original Constitution constituencies or sears were to be revised after every census. In 1951-52 there were 489 seats. In 1957 and 1962 there were 494 seats. In 1967 and 1971 there were 520 seats. In 1977 there were 543 seats. In 1976 the Constitution was amended to freeze the number of constituencies till 2000 and in 2001 it was amended to freeze the number of constituencies till 2026. In 1971 India’s population was 54.7 crore. It was 68 crore in 1981, 85 crore in 1991, 102 crore in 2001 and 121 crore in 2011. Population has more than doubles. Number of constituencies also should have more than doubled. Parliament House not having enough space is the wrong reason for restricting number of constituencies. People are deprived of adequate representation.
It is time for MPs to get real and not be sentimental. The new Parliament building should provide for at least 1600 Lok Sabha members so that population growth in subsequent years is taken care of.

Updated: December 31, 2015 — 7:35 am

2 Comments

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  1. One wonders what purpose will be served having double the no of present members.As it is they have time only for shouting, getting to the well of the house and hardly allowing the house to function.With more such people speaker would have a tough time…

  2. interesting point, I think you are right to some extent. We definitely need to increase the number of seats, but do we really need new building, just because the current one was built by British? I’m sure architects can modify current building to accommodate few more MPs.

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