‘Insult To National Symbol’: Opposition, Activists Object To Muscular, Aggressive Ashokan Lions

Amid the ongoing row over inauguration of the national emblem cast atop the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several Opposition parties and activists across the country have accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government of ‘distorting’ the emblem by replacing the “graceful and regally confident” Ashokan lions with those having menacing and aggressive posture.

While political parties called the move an insult to our national symbol and the majestic Ashokan Lions, activists and historians said that meddling with national emblem was totally unnecessary and avoidable. 

PM Modi had on Monday unveiled the cast of the national emblem atop the new Parliament building. During the event, PM Modi was joined by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh and Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

“Narendra Modi Ji, please observe the face of the Lion, whether it is representing the statue of Great Sarnath or a distorted version of GIR lion. Please check it and if it needs, mend the same,” Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha tweeted.

Even senior lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan took to Twitter and slammed PM Modi’s over the issue. “From Gandhi to Godse; From our national emblem with lions sitting majestically & peacefully; to the new national emblem unveiled for the top of the new Parliament building under construction at Central Vista; Angry lions with bared fangs. This is Modi’s new India,” Bhushan said.

Meanwhile, historian S Irfan Habib, too, objected to the national emblem unveiled atop the new Parliament building. “Meddling with our national emblem was totally unnecessary and avoidable. Why should our lions look ferocious and full of angst? These are Ashoka’s lions adapted by independent India in 1950,” Habib said.

While sharing images of old and new national emblem, Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member Jawahar Sircar  tweeted that the original emblem is on the left, graceful, regally confident and the one on the right is “Modi’s version”.

“Insult to our national symbol, the majestic Ashokan Lions. Original is on the left, graceful, regally confident. The one on the right is Modi’s version, put above the new Parliament building – snarling, unnecessarily aggressive and disproportionate. Shame! Change it immediately,” Sircar tweeted. 

Opposition parties also slammed the ruling dispensation for flouting constitutional norms and not inviting opposition leaders for the event.

“Parliament and the national emblem belong to the people of India and not one man. Imagine if the leaders of all major parties were present at the inauguration today, swearing to uphold the Constitution. But why ruin the photo for our Shahenshah?” tweeted Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi.

Other parties such as Communist Party of India (Marxist), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Trinamool Congress and others also objected to Centre’s decision of not inviting them to the event.