Opposition parties likely to boycott new Parliament building inauguration; TMC, CPI take lead

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A view of the newly-constructed Parliament building | ANI

New Delhi: Amid demands from the opposition that the president and not the prime minister should inaugurate the new Parliament building, the leaders of several political parties have decided to boycott the ceremony on May 28.

Sources said the leaders of like-minded opposition parties deliberated on the issue and a joint statement by all the floor leaders will be issued soon, announcing a united boycott of the event.

Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) said they will skip the inauguration.

The sources added that the final decision will be taken on Wednesday, once the formal invitation is received by the parties.

"Parliament is not just a new building; it is an establishment with old traditions, values, precedents and rules -- it is the foundation of Indian democracy. Prime Minister Modi doesn't get that. For him, Sunday's inauguration of the new building is all about I, ME, MYSELF. So count us out," TMC's leader in the Rajya Sabha Derek O'Brien wrote on Twitter.

CPI general secretary D Raja also said his party will not attend the ceremony.

Soon after the MPs started receiving soft copies of the invitation, they got into a huddle to discuss the issue.

The opposition sources indicated that most of the parties are of the view that they should unitedly skip the ceremony, but a final decision on the issue will be taken on Wednesday.

The opposition parties have raised objections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the new Parliament building and said President Droupadi Murmu should do the honours instead.

"One question for the government -- why are you insulting the president who happens to be a woman from a humble background? Is it because she comes from a humble background? The president is the first citizen of the country and why are you not getting the new building of Parliament, which is called the pillar of democracy, inaugurated by her?

"This is because you want your name to be etched on its stones. You want to insult a woman and a tribal because there is no election in the state she comes from," Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said.

"Whether we will boycott or attend, we will take a decision at the right time," he added.

The opposition parties had boycotted the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the building by Modi in December 2020, citing concerns about its timing amid farmer protests, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic distress due to a lockdown.

The grand opening of the new building, it is learnt, will be marked by the chanting of hymns, a "havan" and a "puja". The rituals will start in the morning and the main programme is scheduled to be held in the afternoon.

Besides Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla will be present at the opening ceremony.

The invitation card for the event states the ceremony will start at noon and requests the invitees to take their seats by 11.30 am. PTI

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