Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A model of the proposed new Parliament building, in New Delhi. (File photo)



The Indian Parliament, that will see 55% additional seating capacity for MPs in its new building, has been no stranger to additions and alterations of seats in the past 68 years since the first Lok Sabha.

The Lok Sabha chamber, used as the Legislative Assembly much before independence, had only 145 seats. After 1947, “the chamber was remodelled to accommodate a much larger number of members when the Constituent Assembly took over the function of the Central Legislature”, according to documents available with the Lok Sabha secretariat.

The first Lok Sabha election in 1952 had 461 seats but within three years, the seats swelled up to 499.

“Subsequently, the seats went up to 522, then to 530 and “now, presently up to 550 within the same building,” said Parliament documents.

And it was during this period that the House authorities had no other choice but to install a few seats that are always hidden behind the pillars of the chamber—places where no MP likes to sit.

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The proposed chamber will be better designed and the architect firm has assured that no seat for MPs will be obstructed by pillars or other structures.

From time to time, Parliament has cleared constitutional amendments to increase the seats of both Houses. The share of seats from each state depends largely on the census and the current strength of 545 seats was construed with reference to the 1971 census.

The delimitation of the current seat allocation will expire in 2026 and it is widely anticipated that the government will refer to the 2001 census to review the seat allocation of different states as the first census of the new century is expected to reflect the population trend more appropriately.

The new Parliament building, for the first time, would also allot individual offices for each MP—a departure from the current practice where only the ministers are allotted chambers in the Parliament building. Transport Bhawan and Shram Shakti Bhavan would be demolished to build the office complex for MPs.