19 Opposition Parties Led by Congress to Boycott Inauguration of the New Parliament Building

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India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI–Several opposition parties led by Congress, announced on Wednesday to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

These parties are of the view that the new Parliament Building should be ideally inaugurated by President Droupadi Murmu as she is the first citizen of India and an integral part of Parliament.

They are accusing the government of ignoring an Adivasi president.

According to the invitation letter issued by the secretary general of Lok Sabha, Utpal Kumar Singh, the ceremony of dedication of the New Parliament Building to the nation is to be done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28, in presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

The invite was received by the Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday on WhatsApp.

Nineteen opposition parties, in a joint statement, explained the reason for their boycott saying, “Prime Minister Modi’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building by himself, completely sidelining President Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response.”

The signatories to the joint statement are Indian National Congress, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Janata Dal (United), Aam Aadmi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thakre), 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, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Rashtriya Lok Dal.

One big name missing among the signatories is K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samiti. Mr. Rao is Telangana’s Chief Minister. Though BRS did not sign the joint statement, but it is reported that it will also boycott the inauguration ceremony.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal is yet to announce its stance but seemingly it will be there in the dedication ceremony.

The foundation-laying ceremony in December 2020 of the new Parliament building was also boycotted by Congress and several Opposition parties.

One day before this joint statement three parties- the Trinamool Congress, the Communist Party of India and the Aam Aadmi Party had announced that they would boycott the inauguration ceremony.

Reportedly, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge reached out to the opposition leaders to issue a joint statement on this matter.

The joint statement of the 19 parties commented that it did not find any value in a new building “when the soul of democracy had been sucked out of the Parliament.”

The statement described PM Modi as “authoritarian Prime Minister.”

It states, “We announce our collective decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building. We will continue to fight — in letter, in spirit, and in substance — against this authoritarian Prime Minister and his government, and take our message directly to the people of India.”

The signatories of the statement alleged that “undemocratic acts were not new to the Prime Minister, who had relentlessly hollowed out the Parliament.”

The statement starts with a recognition that the inauguration of a new Parliament building was a momentous occasion. Then it clarifies the decision for the boycott stating, “Despite our belief that the government is threatening democracy, and our disapproval of the autocratic manner in which the new Parliament was built, we were open to sinking our differences and marking this occasion.”

The parties quoted Article 79 of the Constitution of India which states, “There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses to be known respectively as the Council of States and the House of the People.”

They raised the issue of the inauguration not by the president in the statement and said, “The President is not only the Head of State in India, but also an integral part of the Parliament. She summons, prorogues, and addresses the Parliament. She must assent for an Act of Parliament to take effect. In short, the Parliament cannot function without the President. Yet, the Prime Minister has decided to inaugurate the new Parliament building without her. This undignified act insults the high office of the President, and violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution. It undermines the spirit of inclusion which saw the nation celebrate its first woman Adivasi President.”

The statement tried to put its grievances too. It added, “Opposition Members of Parliament have been disqualified, suspended and muted when they raised the issues of the people of India. MPs from the Treasury benches have disrupted Parliament. Many controversial legislations, including the three farm laws, have been passed with almost no debate, and Parliamentary Committees have been practically made defunct.”

The statement also referred to the expenses of the new Parliament building. It said, “The new Parliament building has been built at great expense during a once-in-a-century pandemic with no consultation with the people of India or MPs, for whom it is apparently being built.”

The project for the new Parliament building saw a legal battle also but the Supreme Court finally cleared its way in a majority judgment with conditions regarding environmental concerns. The Construction of the new building began in December 2020 and was completed on May 20 this year.

Gujarat-based architect Bimal Patel designed the new building and has been built by Tata Projects Ltd.

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