Nineteen Opposition parties, including the Indian National Congress (INC) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), on Wednesday, announced their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, terming it as an "undignified act" that insults the high office of the President.
In a joint statement, they said the inauguration of the Parliament building is a momentous occasion but "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 Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response," the opposition parties said in a joint statement.
"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," they said.
The INC, TMC, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Janata Dal (United), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M], Communist Party of India (CPI), Samajwadi Party (SP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), National Conference (NC), Kerala Congress (M), Revolutionary Socialist Party, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Rashtriya Lok Dal are the signatories of the joint statement.
PM Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament building on May 28 following an invitation by Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla.
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The Opposition parties noted that the President is not only the Head of State in India, but also an integral part of Parliament as she summons, prorogues, and addresses Parliament.
"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.
They added that 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 the MPs, for whom it is being built.
"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 opposition parties said.
The Opposition parties had boycotted the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the building by PM Modi in December 2020, citing concerns about its timing amid farmer protests, the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic distress due to a lockdown.
(With agency inputs)