19 opposition parties to boycott inauguration of India’s new Parliament building

THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2023

Nineteen Opposition parties led by the Congress on Wednesday announced a boycott of the inauguration of the new Parliament Building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.

In a joint statement, the parties said: “When the soul of democracy has been sucked out from the Parliament, we find no value in a new building. We announce our collective decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building.”

“We will continue to fight – in letter, in spirit, and substance – against this authoritarian prime minister and his government, and take our message directly to the people of India,” the statement read.

The further parties said that the inauguration of a new Parliament building is a momentous occasion. “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,” it said.

“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 also a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response,” it added.

Referring to the Constitution’s Article 79, the parties said Murmu “is not only the Head of State 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,” the statement said.

The joint statement by the Opposition also targeted the government over the disqualification of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and the passage of three controversial farm Bills, saying, “Undemocratic acts are not new to the prime minister, who has relentlessly hollowed out the Parliament. 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 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 being built,” it said.

The parties that signed this statement include the DMK and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party; the latter is an ally of the Congress in Maharashtra and the former in Tamil Nadu. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has reached out to opposition leaders to unite them before the 2024 general election, is also a signatory.

RJD Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha said there was a need for course correction with the entire Parliament Building inauguration.

Also on the list of the signatories are the CPI and CPI (M), the Shiv Sena faction led by former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray (also a Congress ally), former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party), and Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Jharkhand’s ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Indian Union Muslim League, Kerala Congress (Mani), the VCK, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the National Conference of ex-Jammu and Kashmir CMs Farooq and Omar Abdullah, the MDMK, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party will also boycott the ceremony.

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused PM Modi of “bypassing” the President. “Modi bypassed the President when the foundation stone for the new Parliament building was laid.

Now too at the inauguration. Unacceptable. Constitution Art 79: “There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses…” Yechury tweeted.

“Only when the President of India summons the Parliament can it meet? The President begins, annually, Parliamentary functioning by addressing the joint session. The first business Parliament transacts each year is the “Motion of Thanks” to the President’s Address,” Yechury tweeted.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MP K Keshava Rao said that though the party has not decided yet, it is unlikely to attend the ceremony.

TMC MP Derek O’Brien took to Twitter earlier to announce the party’s decision. “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. PM Modi doesn’t get that. For him, Sunday’s inauguration of the new building is all about I, ME, MYSELF. So count us out,” he tweeted.

Keeping in view the future requirements, arrangements have been made for a meeting of 888 members in the Lok Sabha and 384 members in the Rajya Sabha in the new building of Parliament. The joint session of both Houses will be held in the Lok Sabha Chamber.

The Statesman

Asia News Network