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Sengol history a fabrication? Cong and BJP shared conflicting views

Congress has accused BJP of spreading false narrative on 'Sengol' to meet its own ends in Tamil Nadu, while BJP has said the Congress is a 'hater' of Indian traditions and culture

Sengol

The Sengol was considered a sacred emblem of authority

BS Web Team New Delhi
Congress General secretary communication in-charge Jairam Ramesh has called the history of the Sengol ‘bogus’, claiming it has been fabricated by the BJP to meet its own ends, using Whatsapp to spread the false narrative.

Home Minister Amit Shah responded claiming that the Congress hated Indian traditions, and criticised it and other Opposition parties for threatening to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to install the Sengol, a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, in the new Parliament building following a traditional Tamil procession on Sunday, May 28.

The Home Minister announced on Wednesday, that the Sengol was used to symbolise the transfer of power from the British to Indians, thereby representing independence and freedom.

"There is a tradition behind this associated with ages. Sengol has played an important role in our history. This Sengol became a symbol of the transfer of power," Shah said in a press conference.

The transfer of the Sengol would be used to inaugurate the new parliament by being placed in a glass case near the Speaker’s seat in the Lok Sabha.

History of the Sengol

According to a report by The Hindu, the then-viceroy Lord Mountbatten asked the to-be Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, "What is the ceremony that should be followed to symbolise the transfer of power from British to Indian hands?"

Nehru then consulted C Rajagopalachari (popularly known as Rajaji), the last viceroy of India and Minister for Home Affairs. Rajaji referred the to-be PM to the ‘Chola’ model, where power was transferred from one king to another by passing on a sceptre in the presence of a high priest.

Pleased with this idea, Nehru tasked Rajaji with securing the sceptre and Rajaji contracted Vummidi Bangaru Chetty and Sons, a jeweller from the Madras presidency to craft the Sengol.

On August 14, 1947, the deputy high priest of Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, Rajarathinam Pillai, was flown to Delhi from the then Madras Presidency, along with an Odhuvar, who sings devotional songs in Tamil temples.

In a ritual involving gangajal (water from the Ganges river) and a procession, the Sengol was delivered from Lord Mountbatten to Nehru, allegedly 15 min before midnight on August 14, 1947.

"Even after 75 years of independence, most of the people in India are not aware of this event. On this night (August 14, 1947) Jawaharlal Nehru received the Sengol from the Adheenams of the Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam in Tamil Nadu, who had specially arrived for the occasion. It was precisely the moment in which power was transferred by the British into the hands of Indians," Shah said.

Bogus history?

In a tweet on Friday, Ramesh wrote, “Is it any surprise that the new Parliament is being consecrated with typically false narratives from the WhatsApp University? The BJP/RSS Distorians stand exposed yet again with Maximum Claims, Minimum Evidence.”
 

Ramesh goes on to discuss that while the “majestic sceptre” was crafted and presented to Nehru in 1947, there is no documented evidence regarding the conversations between Lord Mountbatten and Nehru regarding it being a symbol of power.

He claims that two of the finest scholars of C. Rajagopalachari or Rajaji, the one responsible for procuring the sceptre, could not verify this series of events.

Due to the lack of documented evidence to support the claims, Ramesh has accused BJP of “embroidering facts” to achieve some political ends in Tamil Nadu.

"The sceptre was later kept for display at the Allahabad Museum. What Nehru said there on December 14, 1947, is a matter of public record despite whatever labels may say. 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 added.

BJP responds

Several top BJP leaders and Ministers, along with Amit Shah, have also responded to this latest dispute along with the threats of Congress and other Opposition parties to boycott the inauguration of the new parliament building on Sunday.

The Home Secretary stated in a tweet, “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 symbolise India’s freedom but it was banished to a museum as a ‘walking stick’.”


He also stated, "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 says the Adheenam’s history is bogus. Congress needs to reflect on their behaviour.”


Ramesh emphasised that their main concern was why the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, was not inaugurating the new parliament building.

With only two days till the inauguration, the tension between the parties seems to be growing. BJP is yet to comment on the statements made regarding President Murmu.

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First Published: May 26 2023 | 5:23 PM IST

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