New Delhi: Rajya Sabha kicked off celebrations to mark the historic 250th session of the House with a change in uniform of its marshals. The two marshals, who stand next to the Chair, were seen in military style uniform on the first day of winter session. Their earlier white bandhgala Indian attire with a safa has been replaced by a navy blue-coloured uniform with a peak cap, military-like stripes and stars on the shoulders with golden tassle attached on one side.
Customarily, the presiding officer of the House is flanked by two marshals who march ahead of the chairman to announce the commencement of proceedings and also assist the chair in organising the desk and bringing up order papers.
According to sources in Rajya Sabha secretariat, the design of the uniform was finalised after consultation with the National Institute of Design. "The final design is in-house, the marshals themselves finalised it but yes we did consult NID," an official said.
Two sets of uniforms have been designed according to the winter and summer seasons. In summers, the marshals will be seen in a similar military uniform in white colour.
The new uniform will be worn by the four marshals in the House as and when they are on duty.
Sources said, the need for changing the uniform of the marshals was felt about six months ago in order to give them an identity distinct from the watch and ward staff. "Marshalls are often confused with the other staff, who are there on the floor of the house to assist the members. There is a marshal and a deputy marshal next to the chair who point out the procedure and help the chairman run the house," the source said.
Many Opposition members were, however, unhappy with the change. Congress MP Jairam Ramesh objected to the military-like uniform and asked if a marshal law was imposed. Vice President Vankiah Naidu, who was in the chair dismissed the objection and said, "Don't raise insignificant queries at such a significant hour."
"Many state assemblies have similar uniforms for their marshals. Their uniforms were studied before finalising this design," a source said.
Later in the day, former Indian Army chief Ved Malik took to social media to object to the new uniform of Rajya Sabha marshals, and called it "illegal and a security hazard'.
Copying and wearing of military uniforms by non military personnel is illegal and a security hazard. I hope @VPSecretariat, @RajyaSabha & @rajnathsingh ji will take early action. https://t.co/pBAA26vgcS— Vedmalik (@Vedmalik1) 18 November 2019
Tagging Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh in his tweet, Malik said he hoped that the defence minister would "take early action".