A witness to India's story as it unfolded since 1927

Update: 2022-08-12 18:05 GMT

New Delhi: From the first steps towards self-rule to the dawn of Independence and then to the country's emergence as a nuclear power and beyond, the grand old Parliament building has been a witness to the India story as it unfolded before it since 1927.

The hallowed precincts of Parliament have witnessed lively debates on the making of Constitution, poignant scenes after the announcement of the death of Mahatma Gandhi and thumping of desks when the then prime minister Indira Gandhi announced the unconditional surrender of West Pakistan forces in Bangladesh.

The heartfelt speeches of first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the calm but firm resolve of Lal Bahadur Shastri, the eloquence of Indira Gandhi, the poetic brilliance of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the powerful oratory of Narendra Modi have reverberated in the chambers of Parliament.

The foundation stone of the colonnaded building was laid by Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and the building was inaugurated on January 18, 1927.

The recently-concluded monsoon session of Parliament, could perhaps be the last in the old building as a new triangular building gets ready at a frenetic pace for a possible November inauguration.

"Today you meet for the first time in your new and permanent home in Delhi," Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, said addressing the first session of the third legislative assembly on January 24, 1927.

"In this chamber, the assembly has been provided with a setting worthy of its dignity and importance, and I can pay its designer no higher compliment than by expressing the wish with that the temper, in which the public affairs of India will be here conducted, may reflect the harmony of his conception," he said.

Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pandit Motilal Nehru, Lala Lajpat Rai, C S Ranga Iyer, Madheo Srihari Aney, Vithalbhai Patel among others were the members of the third legislative assembly.

Through the Government of India Act, 1919, the British had started allowing greater participation of Indians in the government.

Two years later, revolutionaries Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt hurled bombs in the Assembly chamber from the public gallery after the House had passed the controversial Trade Disputes Bill.

"At this stage, two bombs were thrown from the Visitor's Gallery, and burst among the benches occupied by the official members, causing injury to certain members. Confusion prevailed and Mr President retired. After a few minutes, Mr President resumed the Chair," according to official report of the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of April 8, 1929.

Vithalbhai Patel was the then president of the legislative assembly, a post which came to be known as the Speaker as parliamentary democracy evolved in the country.

On the eve of Independence, the Constituent Assembly met at 11:00 p.m. with president Rajendra Prasad in the Chair. Sucheta Kriplani, a member from Uttar Pradesh, sang the first verse of Vande Mataram to mark the opening of the special session.

Prime minister Nehru delivered his famous "tryst with destiny" speech which was followed by a pledge by members of the Constituent Assembly dedicating themselves to the service of the nation.

Speaker G V Mavlankar announced the death of Gandhi at a sitting of the Lok Sabha on February 2, 1948.

"We are meeting today under the shadow of a double calamity, the sad demise of the tallest man of our age who has led us from slavery to independence and the reappearance of the cult of political violence in our country," Mavlankar said.

"A glory has departed and the sun that warmed and brightened our lives has set and we shiver in the cold and dark," Nehru said.

It was from the same House that prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri made an appeal to the country to skip one meal every week as India struggled with food shortages and fought a war against Pakistan in 1965.

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