The opposition parties have denounced plans by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the new parliament building, instead of President Droupadi Murmu.
New Delhi: The inauguration of India’s new parliament in New Delhi on Sunday may resemble an event in Beijing or Pyongyang with nearly zero representation from the opposition, as 19 parties announced they will not be attending the ceremony.
Here are the 10 latest developments in the case:
The Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Left, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal- United (JDU), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party, Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction and others said on Wednesday that they will not be part of the event.
The opposition parties have denounced plans by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the new parliament, instead of President Droupadi Murmu, to make a political statement ahead of next year’s national election.
Some of them have also criticised scheduling the event on the birth anniversary of VD Savarkar, the Hindutva ideologue who shared views radically divergent from Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, and had pledged lifelong fealty to the British after prolonged incarceration.
Announcing the Trinamool’s decision, its leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O’Brien wrote on Twitter, “Parliament is not just a new building; it is an establishment with old traditions, values, precedents and rules — it is the foundation of Indian democracy. Prime Minister Modi doesn’t get that. For him, Sunday’s inauguration of the new building is all about I, ME, MYSELF. So count us out.”
Communist Party of India general secretary D Raja also said his party will not attend the ceremony. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) accused PM Modi of “bypassing” the President for not just laying the foundation stone for the new parliament building, but also inaugurating it himself.
Slamming the Congress, which accused the government of disrespecting constitutional propriety, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday accused it of lacking “national spirit and sense of pride” in India’s progress.
He said former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had inaugurated the Parliament Annexe building on October 24, 1975, and successor Rajiv Gandhi had laid the foundation of the parliament library on August 15, 1987. “If your head of government can inaugurate the Parliament annexe and library, then why can’t the head of the government of this time do? It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh countered: “SUV-Self-Usurped Vishwaguru-has already annexe-d the Parliament for self-aggrandisement. But surely, there is a fundamental difference between inaugurating an Annexe where officials work and a library which is hardly used on the one hand, and inaugurating not just the Temple of Democracy but its sanctum sanctorum itself.”
From its cost to the uncharacteristic fierceness of the lions in the national emblem atop the building, the construction of the new parliament – announced in 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic – has found itself tangled in controversy.
The government has said India’s current parliament building was built under British rule in 1927 and has grown too small. Laying the foundation stone of the new building in December 2020, PM Modi has said it would be an intrinsic part of a “self-reliant India”. It will accommodate 888 members in the lower house and 300 members in the upper house, as compared to the current 543 and 250, respectively, and is part of the Modi government’s plan to redevelop the historical heart of New Delhi called the Central Vista.