Nineteen opposition parties, including the Congress and Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party, said Wednesday morning they intend to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building in Delhi this weekend and criticised an ‘authoritarian prime minister and his government’.
“When the soul of democracy has been sucked out 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 in substance – against this authoritarian Prime Minister and his government, and take our message directly to the people of India.”
The opposition parties said that despite differences with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party they had been open to ‘sinking our differences and marking this occasion’ but said ‘prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to inaugurate the Parliament building by himself, completely sidelining president (Droupadi) Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy…”
What the opposition joint statement said
Referring to the Constitution’s Article 79, the opposition 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 opposition parties declared.
The joint statement by the opposition – which has steadily united against the BJP, particularly since the controversial disqualification from Lok Sabha of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after his conviction in the ‘Modi surname’ case – also accused Modi of having ‘relentlessly hollowed out the Parliament’.
The opposition referred even to the three farm laws that led to furious protests and violence before a mass movement by farmers, opposition leaders and civil society activists forced the Modi government to recall and scrap all three laws.
Which parties have signed the statement?
The parties that signed this statement include the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party; the latter is an ally of the Congress in Maharashtra and the former in Tamil Nadu. The Janata Dal (United) of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who has reached out to opposition leaders, including Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal, in efforts to unite them before the 2024 general election, is also a signatory.
The Biju Janata Dal has not signed this statement or announced a boycott so far. Also on the list are the Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Shiv Sena faction led by former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray (also a Congress ally), the Samajwadi Party of ex-Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Bihar deouty chief minister Tejashwi Yadav.
Jharkhand’s ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Indian Union Muslim League, Kerala Congress (Mani), the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the National Conference of ex-Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Farooq and Omar Abdullah, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party will also boycott the ceremony.
Modi is to inaugurate the new Parliament building at noon on Sunday.