"Soul Of Democracy Sucked Out": Opposition To Boycott Parliament Opening

The opposition parties have denounced plans by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the new parliament building, instead of President Droupadi Murmu.

PM Modi is set to inaugurate the new parliament building on Sunday.

New Delhi: The inauguration of India's new parliament in New Delhi on Sunday will see nearly zero representation from the opposition, with 20 parties announcing they will be boycotting the ceremony.

Here is your 10-point guide to this story:

  1. 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. Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) also joined the boycott.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. "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... 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 opposition parties said in a statement.

  5. "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... When the soul of democracy has been sucked out from the parliament, we find no value in a new building," they added.

  6. Addressing a news briefing, Union Home Minister Amit Shah declined to comment on the backlash but said, "We have invited everyone. They can decide according to their wisdom." Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi urged opposition parties to reconsider their decision to boycott the ceremony.

  7. Earlier, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday accused the Congress 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.

  8. 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."

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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