NEW DELHI: In a show of unity, 19 opposition parties, including the Congress, have announced their intention to boycott the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament building. In a joint statement, they expressed their belief that the “soul of democracy has been sucked out from the Parliament,” making the new building devoid of any symbolic value.
The primary objection raised by the opposition parties is against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building alone, sidelining President Droupadi Murmu. They argue that this action not only constitutes a grave insult but also a direct assault on democracy that requires an appropriate response.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister said, “It is an insult to the President to have the Prime Minister inaugurate the new Parliament House instead of the President!”
“नए संसद भवन का राष्ट्रपति की जगह प्रधानमंत्री के उद्घाटन कराना राष्ट्रपति का अपमान है!"@yadavtejashwi pic.twitter.com/jwl9hfHeK4— बिहार राजद (@RJD_BiharState) May 24, 2023
The signatories of the joint statement comprise a diverse range of parties, including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Aam Aadmi Party, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (United), Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena (Udhav Thackeray), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India, Indian Union Muslim League, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, National Conference, Kerala Congress (Mani), Revolutionary Socialist Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.
एक अकेला pic.twitter.com/gkZ9PD5z6M— Congress (@INCIndia) May 24, 2023
While the opposition bloc reached out to the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) to join the boycott, sources suggest that the party is yet to make a decision on signing the joint statement. BRS leader K. Keshav Rao stated that they are still deliberating the matter and will reach a conclusion soon.
The inauguration of the new Parliament building, scheduled for Sunday, will be conducted by Prime Minister Modi, with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also in attendance. The opposition argues that according to the Constitution, it is the President who holds the position of the head of the Indian state and the Parliament, and therefore, it is the President who should perform such ceremonial duties.
Quoting Article 79 of the Constitution, which states the composition of the Parliament, the opposition parties stressed that the President plays a crucial role in summoning, proroguing, and addressing the Parliament. They contend that the Prime Minister’s decision to inaugurate the building without the President undermines the spirit of the Constitution and disrespects the office of the President, particularly as President Murmu is the nation’s first woman adivasi (indigenous) President.
The opposition parties further accuse Prime Minister Modi of systematically undermining the Parliament by disqualifying, suspending, and silencing opposition members and passing controversial legislations without proper debate. They also criticize the construction of the new building, which took place amid the ongoing pandemic, without consulting the people of India or Members of Parliament.
The joint statement emphasized that when the essence of democracy has been depleted within the Parliament, the new building holds no significance. As a result, they collectively declared their decision to boycott the inauguration ceremony. The opposition parties pledged to continue their fight against what they view as an authoritarian prime minister and his government, vowing to take their message directly to the people of India.
Shortly after the joint statement was released, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter, asserting that the Parliament is not built by “bricks of ego” but through the values enshrined in the Constitution.
The opposition’s decision to boycott the inauguration ceremony underscores their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in the Parliament and their commitment to upholding the principles of democracy. It presents a formidable challenge to the ruling government and highlights the deepening political divide in the country. The impact of this