Modi opened the new parliament in May amid a boycott from the opposition, which wanted the Indian president to inaugurate it instead.

Indian lawmakers bid farewell to the British-era Parliament building and moved to a new building next door on what Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as a “historic day.”

In May, Modi inaugurated the new building, part of an ambitious redevelopment of the so-called Central Vista complex in New Delhi, amid protests from opposition parties that wanted the Indian president to inaugurate instead.

The new, larger, four-story building can accommodate 1,272 members – nearly 500 more than the previous building.

A view showing the new, left and old Indian parliament buildings in New Delhi (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

Addressing the House of Representatives in the old building on Monday, Modi said: “It is a very emotional moment to bid farewell to the old Parliament building… Its glory also belongs to us.”
Built by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker two decades before India’s independence in 1947, the ancient building witnessed the winding birth of the republic and later became a guardian of the world’s most populous democracy.

Now it is slated to become a museum, with its 788 members moving into a new triangular-shaped complex built at an estimated cost of $120 million.

It is part of a $2.8 billion renovation of British-era offices and housing in central New Delhi that will also include buildings for government ministries and departments and the prime minister’s new residence. The entire project extends over 3.2 kilometers (1.9 mi).

Modi speaks with Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, right, with former President Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in the Central Hall of the Old Parliament Building (File: Press Information Bureau via AP)

The main opposition parties in May boycotted the opening of the new building, calling it too expensive, in a rare show of unity against Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, which has been in power for nine years and is seeking a third term in next year’s elections.
“Today is an occasion to recall and remember the 75-year parliamentary journey in India before the proceedings are moved to the newly inaugurated building,” Modi said in a special session of Parliament ahead of Tuesday’s move.

His speech marked the start of a five-day special session called by the government, but there was no immediate confirmation of the bills up for debate. Indian lawmakers usually meet three times a year: the budget session, the monsoon session, and the winter session.

The announcement of the five-day special session last month was criticized by opposition lawmakers, who said the Modi government had not announced its parliamentary agenda and accused it of “undermining” democracy by passing crucial laws without much debate.

Last week, the government released a “tentative list” of four bills, including a controversial measure that is expected to change how the Chief Election Commissioner of India is appointed.

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