19 Opp parties to boycott inauguration; NDA accuses Congress of hypocrisy

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19 Opp parties to boycott inauguration; NDA accuses Congress of hypocrisy

Thursday, 25 May 2023 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

In a show of unity, 19 Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Left and the TMC, on Wednesday announced their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying they find no value in a new building when the soul of democracy has been sucked out.

The decision to boycott came amid a war of words on the matter between the Government and the Opposition, which has been demanding that the President should inaugurate the new Parliament building, and not the Prime Minister.

The BJP-led accused the Congress of hypocrisy and questioned the “locus standi” of Sonia Gandhi, saying that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Sonia had inaugurated legislative buildings in Manipur and Tamil Nadu.

“Congress’ hypocrisy knows no limits,” said BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla, reminding the Congress that then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had inaugurated the Parliament House Annexe and her successor Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation stone of the Parliament Library building in 1987.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, however, urged the protesting Opposition parties to reconsider their decision to boycott the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament building. It was unfortunate that the Opposition parties were making an issue out of a non-issue, he said.

The Opposition parties had boycotted the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the building by Modi in December 2020, citing concerns about its timing amid farmer protests, the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic distress due to a lockdown.

Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, Janata Dal (United), AAP, CPI-M, CPI, SP, NCP, SS (UBT), RJD, IUML, JMM, NC, KC (M), RSP, VCK, MDMK, RLD are the signatories of the joint statement. In their joint statement, the Opposition parties 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.

Noting that the inauguration of the Parliament building is a momentous occasion, the Opposition parties in a joint statement said, “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”.

However, Prime Minister Modi’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building by himself, “completely sidelining President Droupadi Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response”.

The Opposition parties said the president is not only the Head of State in India, but also an integral part of Parliament as she summons, prorogues, and addresses it.

“In short, 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 parties said.

The Congress said the Prime Minister’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building is a “direct attack” on democracy.

Asserting that Parliament is not built by “bricks of ego” but through constitutional values, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said not letting President Droupadi Murmu inaugurate the new Parliament building as well as not inviting her to the ceremony is an “insult” to the country’s highest constitutional post.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also attacked Union minister Hardeep Puri for his remarks that Indira Gandhi inaugurated the Parliament Annexe building in 1975 and Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation of the parliament library in 1987.

 

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