India uses scepter as national symbol in new parliament, triggers historical controversy
New Delhi, May 26 (EFE).- The decision to exhibit Sengol, a golden scepter built and conserved by India since 1947, in the new parliament building has triggered a debate among politicians and historians in the country, with allegations that the government has distorted the history of the object, a symbol of independence.
The 1.5-meter long solid gold scepter will be exhibited in the new parliament premises, set to be inaugurated on Sunday, as part of a series of symbolic displays by the government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide cultural significance to the building.
The government claims that Louis Mountbatten, the last British viceroy of India, suggested to Jawaharlal Nehru – who became the first prime minister of the nation after independence – that he should mark the transfer of power with a ceremony.
This supposedly led to the creation of the Sengol by priests of the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
“The sceptre is now being used by the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) & his drum-beaters for their political ends in Tamil Nadu. This is typical of this brigade that embroiders facts to suit its twisted objective,” Jairam Ramesh, a lawmaker from the opposition party Indian National Congress, tweeted on Friday.
The debate is the latest in a long series of allegations against the Modi government of trying to rewrite India’s history from the perspective of the right-wing Hindutva ideology, which holds that Hindus have the first claim on the nation.
“Is it any surprise that the new Parliament is being consecrated with typically false narratives from the WhatsApp University?,” Ramesh addes, referring to theories spread via social networks without being backed by historians with credentials.
Historians agree that Nehru received the golden scepter from Adheenams – Hindu priests – on the night of Aug. 14, 1947, a day before the declaration of independence, but most of them insist that this was a gift to the leader and not part of a ceremony agreed upon with Mountbatten.
However, the Modi government has created an exclusive webpage for the Sengol, which claims that the transfer of power was carried out through an age-old ceremony in southern India. EFE