Image credit: BBC

On top of the new parliament building on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ceremoniously unveiled a bronze replica of India’s flag.

The cast, which is 6.5 metres (21 feet 3 inches) tall, features four Asiatic lions mounted back-to-back on a disc.

However, the new statue, which was modelled after an ancient Indian sculpture from 250 BC, has drawn a lot of criticism.

The new “ferocious” appearance of the lions, according to detractors, departs from how they were originally portrayed.

On Monday morning, Mr. Modi posted a video of the opening, in which the cast, which weighs 9,500 kg (20,943 pounds), was visible atop the new parliament building’s main entryway.

The installation of India’s national emblem, which was inspired by the Lion Capital of Ashoka sculpture that once stood atop one of the many pillars built by Emperor Ashoka during his reign in 250 BC, was described as an “important milestone in the decolonization” of the nation’s capital city by a senior government official.

However, several social media users noted that the new cast’s portrayal of the lions was very different from the previous one, and that instead of appearing “benevolent and regal,” they instead “snarled.”

The government has a 200 billion rupee ($2.7 billion; £2 billion) plan to renovate ancient colonial government buildings in Delhi, which includes the new parliament complex, which is still under construction.

The government has come under fire from opposition parties for the project’s price tag and design.

The leader of the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sitaram Yechury, claimed on Monday that PM Modi’s participation in the unveiling of the national anthem violated the constitution because it “subverted” the division of power between the executive branch, as represented by Mr. Modi, and the legislature, as symbolised by the parliament building.

In addition, Mr. Yechury criticised the prime minister for leading a puja on the occasion, a Hindu religious rite. Additionally, opposition parties claimed that they were not invited to the unveiling.

By August 2022, the new parliament building should be finished, just in time for the nation’s 75th anniversary of independence. But afterwards, officials said that only October would see the building’s completion.

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