Slamming the Centre for not letting President Droupadi Murmu inaugurate the new Parliament building, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday (24) said that not inviting her to the ceremony is an “insult” to the country’s highest constitutional post. Gandhi also asserted that Parliament is not built by “bricks of ego” but through constitutional values.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the new Parliament building on May 28. The Centre has invited all sitting members of both houses of Parliament, ministers and secretaries and chief ministers and administrators of Union territories. However, President Murmu has not be invited to the event, stirring a hornets’ nest.
Besides Gandhi, several Congress leaders also slammed the government over the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on coming Sunday.
“The shehnai of democracy should be played in Parliament, but ever since the self-proclaimed Vishwaguru has arrived, the cannon of autocracy is being fired,” Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a Tweet in Hindi. “Not the building, change the intentions,” he added.
Earlier, 19 opposition parties, including the Congress, Left, AAP and TMC, announced their decision to boycott the inauguration, saying they find no value in a new building when the soul of democracy has been sucked out of Parliament.
In a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said, “Neither getting the President to inaugurate the Parliament nor inviting her to the ceremony is an insult to the country’s highest constitutional post.” Without mincing words, he further added, “Parliament is not built by bricks of ego, but through constitutional values.”
Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament building on Sunday following an invitation by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
Tagging a joint statement of the 19 Opposition parties announcing the boycott of the inauguration of the new Parliament building, Ramesh said, “Why should we give oxygen to the Prime Ministers edifice complex?”
Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal said, “Parliament is sacrosanct, and as the Head of State, President Murmu is the only authority that can preside over the solemn occasion of the inauguration of the new Parliament building. Venugopal further said in a tweet, “PM Modi inaugurating the new premises is unsurprising, but appalling nonetheless. As the opposition, we refuse to participate in this charade designed solely to feed the PMs megalomania.”
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also attacked Union minister Hardeep Puri for his remarks that Indira Gandhi inaugurated Parliament Annexe building in 1975 and Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation of the Parliament Library in 1987. “But those were subsidiary buildings, dear HardeepSPuri – an Annexe and a Library. This is a whole new Parliament! Doesn’t the Constitution say the President is its head, convenes Parliament and prorogues it? So shouldn’t she inaugurate it rather than the PM?,” he said in his tweet.
Taking a dig at the prime minister, Congress media and publicity head Pawan Khera said that bypassing ministers, he reaches everywhere “to cut the ribbon” himself. “Those poor people cannot object. But you want to cut the lace of the Parliament House complex by insulting Her Excellency, this is not acceptable to us. We will not be a part of this spectacle of yours, Best wishes,” Khera said in a tweet in Hindi.
In their joint statement announcing the boycott, the Opposition parties said that 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 a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response.”
“When the soul of democracy has been sucked out from Parliament, we find no value in a new building. We announce our collective decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building,” the parties said. “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,” they said.
The Congress has been attacking the government over the issue, accusing it of disrespecting constitutional propriety and demanding that President Murmu should do the inauguration instead of Prime Minister Modi.
The Opposition parties have also argued 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 it, therefore, the President should inaugurate the building and not the PM.
(With agency inputs)