Opposition slams ‘aggressive’ makeover to national emblem, BJP hits back

A fresh row erupted over the national emblem cast atop the new Parliament building that was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday. The Opposition took offence to the “muscular, aggressive” Ashokan lions and accused the Centre of distorting the national emblem and sought immediate change.

The BJP hit back claiming the emblem was an exact replica of the one in Sarnath and accused the Opposition of deliberately trying to create one controversy after another for political reasons.

As parties traded barbs at each other, the sculptor of the 9.5-tonne cast, Sunil Deore, said photos that were widely shared on social media were taken from below, and hence, the expressions looked aggressive.

Here’s what political parties and the sculptor had to say.


A day after the unveiling of the national emblem cast, TMC MPs Jawhar Sircar and Mahua Moitra attacked the Centre over the expressions and proportions of the lions in the national emblem cast.

“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 new Parliament building — snarling, unnecessarily aggressive and disproportionate,” said Sircar, sharing two images on Twitter.

Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra tweeted a side-by-side image of the Lion Capital of Ashoka — comparing a past sculpture with the bronze and burnished cast installed on the roof of the new Parliament building, without any comment.

Meanwhile, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wondered whether the national emblem cast is a “distorted version” of the lions found in the Gir forest of Gujarat, PM Modi’s home state.

“The AAP believes that no body has permission to tamper with any constitutional heritage in any manner. Such kind of tampering should be avoided as it hurts the constitutional tradition of the country,” the party’s chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said.

“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,” Historian S Irfan Habib told PTI.


Responding to the criticism, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said one needs to appreciate the impact of angle, height and scale when comparing the two structures.

“If one looks at the Sarnath emblem from below, it would appear as calm or angry as the one being discussed,” Puri said.

READ | ‘Comparing 2D image to 3D structure’: BJP hits back at Opposition over national emblem cast

“Sense of proportion and perspective. Beauty is famously regarded as lying in the eyes of the beholder. So is the case with calm and anger. The original Sarnath emblem is 1.6 metres high whereas the emblem on the top of the new Parliament building is huge at 6.5 metres height,” he added, sharing an image of the Sarnath emblem.

BJP’s IT cell head, Amit Malviya, said the emblem atop the new Parliament building is an adaptation from Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.

ALSO READ | Does the law permit the government to amend the national emblem?

“There is just no change. The opposition is comparing 2D images in print to an imposing 3D structure. They have lost it,” he said in a tweet.

“Those leaders who have either disregarded or discarded the Constitution over the years are expected to oppose the national emblem. Today they are afraid of the national emblem, which is the pride of our country. It is not unexpected from the party and its leaders who insult Goddess Kali to insult the national emblem,” said Union minister Smriti Irani, hitting out at TMC.


Sunil Deore, the sculptor, said there is no difference between the new statue and the ancient sculpture Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath.

“The original structure is 3 to 3.5 feet high, but the new one is 21.3 feet tall. My brief was to create an exact replica of the lions. It took nine months to complete the project,” he said.

The artist added that the structure had to be completed in parts as it weighed almost 9,500 kg and the final touches were finished on the spot. The steel structure that would support the emblem weighs nearly 6,500 kg.

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