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As many as 19 opposition parties, including the Congress, on Wednesday decided to boycott the inauguration ceremony of the new parliament on May 28, saying that President Droupadi Murmu is being "completely sidelined" as Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the new building all by himself, which is a "serious insult" and a "direct attack on our democracy".
The parties issued a joint statement of their decision in response to the Center's decision. The opposition had earlier raised strong objection to the inauguration being held on May 28, the birth anniversary of Hindutva ideologue and BJP mentor VD Savarkar.
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge accused the Modi government of appeasing Dalit and tribal communities by appointing Droupadi Murma as president and that she was now not invited to the inauguration and the office of president has been reduced to "tokenism".
“Droupadi Murmu ji is the only authority who can preside over the inauguration ceremony of the new parliament building. Prime Minister Modi inaugurating the new premises is not surprising, but still terrifying. As the opposition, we refuse to be part of this charade, which is solely meant to fuel the Prime Minister's megalomania,” Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said in a tweet, sharing a joint statement.
The parties boycotting the occasion include Congress, AAP, Trinamool Congress, DMK, Left, RJD, Nitish Kumar's JD(U), NCP, Samajwadi Party, Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena faction and others. "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 that saw the nation celebrate its first Adivasi president,” the statement said.
The opposition accused the Prime Minister of emptying Parliament and said that members who raised people-related issues were either disqualified, suspended or silenced in Parliament, a reference to Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from the Lok Sabha, which occurred as a result of his conviction. in a defamation case over the "Surname Modi" remarks.
According to the official invitation, Parliament will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister at 12 noon on May 28 in the presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. There is no mention of the President or Vice President being present at the event. Responding to a question about the opposition's decision, Home Minister Amit Shah said, “It is an emotional event and should not be politicized. Everyone thinks according to their possibilities."
Union Minister Prahlad Joshi urged the parties to reconsider their decision as he urged them to join the "historic function".
The existing Parliament building in India, built during British rule in 1927, was considered inadequate by the government. In December 2020, Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament building, stressing its importance in promoting an "independent India". The new structure is designed to accommodate a larger number of legislators, with 888 seats in the Lok Sabha House and 300 seats in the Rajya Sabha.
This expansion represents a significant increase over the current capacities of 543 in the lower house and 250 in the upper house.