Week after uniform row, Rajya Sabha marshals switch back to bandhgalas
The marshals who flank Rajya Sabha’s presiding officer switched back to ethnic bandhgala suits on Monday as they appeared in Parliament’s upper House a week after their new military-style uniform provoked criticism including from former Army chief General Ved Prakash Malik, who called the attire illegal and a security hazard.
They did not, however, wear turbans that were earlier part of their dress code during winters. HT on November 20 reported that the marshals had requested a change in the uniform citing the cumbersome turbans, which they found too stiff to maintain.
Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had on Tuesday last ordered a review of the military-style attire. The move came a day after the marshals appeared in the Rajya Sabha on the first day of its 250th session in deep blue winter uniform and peak caps similar to those senior army officers wear on ceremonial occasions. The uniform also had an aiguillette and braided cord similar to military uniforms as well as epaulettes with stripes depicting the seniority of the marshals.
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The marshals earlier wore bandhgala suits and turbans during winters and safari suits in summers.
Naidu had announced that the Rajya Sabha secretariat would revisit the decision to replace the marshals’ ethnic dress citing “some observations from some political as well as some well-meaning people”.
Gen Malik was among those who objected to the military-style uniform in a tweet on November 18. “Copying and wearing of military uniforms by non-military personnel is illegal and a security hazard.” Malik, who led the Army during the 1999 Kargil War, had hoped that Naidu and defence minister Rajnath Singh will take “early action”.
The marshals were to wear a white uniform in summers similar to that of navy personnel as per the new dress code, according to people aware of the development. The green uniforms were meant for the winters.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called the military-style uniform for the marshals “a very significant change” as he sought to speak about it in the Rajya Sabha on November 18 in the middle of a condolence motion for former Union minister Arun Jaitley, who passed away in August.
Naidu stopped Ramesh from speaking about the uniform, saying it was not the right time to make the point. “Okay. You always make significant points at an insignificant time,” Naidu told Ramesh on Monday.
Ramesh later told HT in a lighter vein that “marshal law” had started inside the House.
The marshals also march ahead of the chairman to announce the commencement of proceedings apart from flanking Rajya Sabha’s presiding officer.