NEW DELHI, Dec 10 - Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the new Parliament building on Thursday and described the event a �milestone in India�s democratic history�, asserting that if the old Parliament House gave direction to the country post-independence, the new one would be a witness to the making of an �Aatmanirbhar Bharat�.
Addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone and performing the ground-breaking ceremony, Modi urged the people to take a pledge to keep �India First� and asserted that every decision should increase the strength of the country, whose interest is paramount.
Asserting that Indian democratic traditions predate the Magna Carta, a 13th century document many scholars consider as the framework for a modern republic, the Prime Minister said the day is not far when the world will term India �mother of democracy� if Indians extol the country�s democratic history with confidence.
�It is a very historic day. Today is a milestone in India�s democratic history... We, the people of India, will together build this new building of Parliament,� Modi said, adding that the new building will be an inspiration when India will celebrate 75 years of its independence.
The making of the new Parliament building is an example of co-existence of the new with the old, he said.
�I can never forget the moment in my life when I had the opportunity to come to Parliament House for the first time in 2014 as an MP. Before stepping in, I bowed and saluted this temple of democracy,� Modi said.
�The current Parliament building played an important role in pre and post independent India. The first government of an independent India was formed here and the first sitting of Parliament took place here, our Constitution was drafted here, our democracy was re-established here. Babasaheb Ambedkar and others, after deep deliberations in the Central Hall, gave us a Constitution,� he said.
Union ministers, ambassadors, leaders of different parties, including former Lok Sabha speaker Shivraj Patil and representatives of the YSR Congress, AIADMK, BJD and TRS, were in the audience. However, some opposition leaders gave the event a miss.
Industrialist Ratan Tata, whose group firm has got the contract to construct the new building, was also there.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Harivansh read out the statements from President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. � PTI