The Sengol, destined for the new Parliament building, has ignited a contentious dispute between the ruling BJP and the Congress. The Centre has accused the Congress of disrespecting Indian traditions, while the grand old party has dismissed the saffron party’s allegations as baseless. Amidst the verbal sparring, the resplendent ‘Sengol’ has been relocated from the Allahabad Museum to the national capital in preparation for the upcoming inauguration of the new Parliament building.
Notably, ‘Sengol’, which marked the symbol of the transfer of power from the British to India, will be kept as a legacy in the new Parliament building. It will be installed by the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha, prominently close to the Speaker’s podium. The new building of Parliament will witness Adheenam (Priests) from Tamil Nadu performing rituals and vesting PM Modi with the Sengol.
Congress Vs BJP
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed no documented evidence to show that the Sengol was handed over to former PM Jawahar Lal Nehru as the symbol of the transfer of power. “There is NO documented evidence whatsoever of Mountbatten, Rajaji & Nehru describing this sceptre as a symbol of the transfer of British power to India. All claims to this effect are plain and simple — BOGUS. Wholly and completely manufactured in the minds of a few and dispersed into WhatsApp, and now to the drum-beaters in the media,” said Ramesh in a tweet.
Reacting to his tweet, Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused the Congress of hating Indian traditions. “Why does the Congress party hate Indian traditions and culture so much? A sacred Sengol was given to Pandit Nehru by a holy Saivite Mutt from Tamil Nadu to symbolize India’s freedom but it was banished to a museum as a ‘walking stick’. Now, Congress has heaped another shameful insult. The Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam, a holy Saivite Mutt, itself spoke about the importance of the Sengol at the time of India’s freedom. Congress is calling Adheenam’s history as BOGUS! Congress needs to reflect on their behaviour,” said Shah.
Sengol’s Tamil Nadu Connection
The historic sceptre ‘Sengol’ was received by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on August 14, 1947, to represent the symbol of the transfer of power from the Britishers to India. It was made by the Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers then. As per the official document, Jawahar Lal Nehru was asked by Lord Mountbatten how the transfer of powers would be symbolized. Nehru consulted C Rajagopalachari, the last Governor General of India, who told him about the ceremony performed during the Chola dynasty. In the ceremony, the power transfer from one king to another was depicted by handing over of ‘Sengol’.
C Rajagopalachari was given a task by Jawahar Lal Nehru to arrange the sceptre- the ‘Sengol’ and he then reached Thiruvaduthurai Atheenam in Tamil Nadu, “Vummidi Bangaru Chetty” jewellers manufactured the ‘Sengol’. The ‘Sengol’ is five-feet-long and has a ‘Nandi’ bull on the top, which symbolises justice. Notably, a replica of the ‘Sengol’ is still kept by the descendants of Vummidi Bangaru. This iconic ceremony was reported by local as well as international media. Just after the ceremony, PM Nehru delivered his famous ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech to the nation.
The five-foot long intricately carved, unbending gold-plated silver sceptre, with a finial of Nandi (divine bull deity) on top, was specially commissioned by the Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam. A replica of the Sengol is still kept in the Vummidi Bangaru Jewellery and maintained by the descendants of Vummidi Bangaru.
BJP, Tamil Nadu and Sengol
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the BJP is using the Sengol to gain a foot in Tamil Nadu. “The sceptre is now being used by the PM & his drum-beaters for their political ends in Tamil Nadu. This is typical of this brigade that embroiders facts to suit its twisted objectives,” he said.
The BJP does not have any Lok Sabha MPs from Tamil Nadu. The state has 39 Lok Sabha seats and the saffron party desperately hopes for winning some parliamentary seats from the South as it might lose several Lok Sabha seats from the north in the 2024 polls owing to altered political equations. The BJP is out of power in Chandigarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand. This may affect the BJP’s Lok Sabha tally and thus if the party manages to make inroads into south India, it may work wonders for the ruling party. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP stood second in five seats of Tamil Nadu – Coimbatore, Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram, Kanyakumari and Thoothikuddy. The saffron party will contest the polls in alliance with AIADMK. With a weaker opposition in Tamil Nadu following J Jayalalithaa’s demise, the BJP has adopted an aggressive posture in the state under the leadership of state party chief K Annamalai.
The head priest of Madurai Adheenam, Sri Harihara Desika Swamigal, who will be presenting the ‘Sengol’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has said that Modi should return as the PM again in 2024. This shows that PM Modi and the BJP’s efforts are slowly bearing fruits and the people of Tamil Nadu are opening the door of their hearts for him.
Prime Minister Modi has displayed a keen involvement in Tamil Nadu’s affairs, exemplified by his active participation in events such as the Kashi Tamil Sangam and the inauguration of the Vande Bharat Express trains for the state. PM Modi has consistently lauded the Tamilian community and the Tamil language, hailing it as India’s oldest language and a symbol of Indian culture. With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) currently out of power from its ‘Gateway of the South’ (Karnataka), a successful foray into the stronghold of Tamil Nadu would serve as a significant boost for the saffron brigade and yet another accolade for Narendra Modi.