Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) gesturing to priests during the inauguration ceremony of the new parliament building in New Delhi | Photo: PIB / AFP
New Delhi: The inauguration of the new Parliament building on Sunday was marked with a boycott by 21 opposition parties which accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of treating the event like his "coronation", and said democracy is run by people not by buildings.
The opposition leaders also accused the government of violating Constitutional norms by not inviting President Droupadi Murmu to the event. They said when the inauguration ceremony was underway, protesting wrestlers, who have accused a BJP MP of sexual harassment, were removed from Jantar Mantar as they sought to march towards the new Parliament House.
The government has rejected the opposition argument, saying no protocols were violated and that Modi respects the President.
The Congress claimed the new Parliament was inaugurated in a grand fashion by a "self-glorifying authoritarian PM with utter disdain for Parliamentary procedures".
Democracy does not run from the buildings but through the voices of the people, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said.
"The right to inaugurate the new Parliament was snatched from the President. Women players were beaten up on the streets with dictatorial force," he said in a tweet in Hindi. "The three lies of the BJP-RSS rulers now stand exposed before the country -- democracy, nationalism and Beti Bachao."
"Remember Modi ji, democracy does not run from the buildings but functions through the voice of the public," Kharge said.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal was most stinging in its criticism of the project as it likened the new Parliament building's triangular shape to a coffin, drawing a sharp response from the BJP.
"What is this," the party asked in the tweet, while sharing a picture of the coffin and that of the new Parliament.
The BJP's Bihar unit responded to the tweet saying, "The first picture is your future and the second is of India. Understood?"
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said Parliament is the voice of the people but the prime minister is treating the inauguration of the new building like a "coronation".
"Parliament is the voice of the people! The prime minister is treating the inauguration of the Parliament House as (a) coronation," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi soon after Modi inaugurated the building.
Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary (incharge communication), said President Droupadi Murmu -- the first woman from the tribal community to become the head of State -- is not allowed to perform her Constitutional duties and inaugurate the new building.
"A self-glorifying authoritarian Prime Minister with utter disdain for Parliamentary procedures, who rarely attends Parliament or engages in it, inaugurates the new Parliament building in 2023," he said.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Srinate told a press conference that not inviting the president to the new Parliament building's inauguration reflects the government's "anti-woman and anti-Dalit" attitude.
This was Modi's "rajtilak (coronation)", she said.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said various rituals performed at the inauguration of the new Parliament building show the country was being taken backwards by decades.
"There is a huge difference between the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru talking about the concept of modern India and a series of rituals performed at the new Parliament building today in New Delhi. I fear that we are taking our country backward by decades.
"One cannot compromise on science. Nehru was persistent about his wish to form a society with scientific temperament. But what is happening today at the inaugural ceremony of the new parliament building is exactly the opposite of what Nehru had envisaged," he said in Pune.
The grand inauguration this morning included a havan, a multi-faith prayer ceremony and the installation of the Sengol in a special enclosure in the Lok Sabha chamber.
The Left parties also compared the PM inaugurating the parliament building with the coronation of a monarch by relegating the people of the country to being "subjects ('praja')".
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged the inauguration ceremony was held amid "loud propaganda" with the declaration of a "new India".
"This declaration of a 'New India' comes in the absence of the President of India, Vice President of India and opposition parties! India = Nation and Citizen; New India = Raja and Praja."
"Sengol belongs to the period of feudal monarchies, emperors and kings. Indian people overthrew such bondages and ushered in a secular democratic republic where every citizen is equal. Sengol has no role in a democracy where people elect the government," he tweeted.
CPI MP Binoy Viswam said the salutations to the Sengol came at the cost of "beatings to wrestlers".
"This beginning testifies the course of the new parliament. Ruthless fascist autocracy guides its way. When PM bowed before Savarkar, the country remembered his (Savarkar's) mercy petitions. They will try to use the new parliament for Adani and FDI. We will fight it," he said.
Opposition Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati, however, congratulated the Centre for the inauguration of the new Parliament building and said it should be used in the interest of the country.
"It would be appropriate that this new building is used in the interest of the country and its people as per the humanitarian thoughts of Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and the noble intention of the sacred Constitution made by him," she said in a Tweet in Hindi.
Meanwhile, the Jharkhand unit of Congress, CPI and some tribal organisations staged demonstrations in Ranchi to protest against the Centre for "not inviting" President Droupadi Murmu to the inauguration event.
BJP leaders and Union ministers, however, hailed PM Modi, saying he has added a new chapter in the democratic history of the country by dedicating a new Parliament to the nation.
"The installation of the 'Sengol' in the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi marks the continuation of age-old cultural traditions of our nation," BJP national president J P Nadda said in a tweet.
Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal attacked the opposition dubbing their decision to boycott as an example of "cheap politics" and also slammed them for questioning the relevance of the historic Sengol.