Prime Minister Narendra Modi will do the honours in the presence of and on the invitation of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
Union home minister Amit Shah says the new Parliament building is a testament of the Prime Minister’s vision of creating a new India, which combines modernity with the country’s heritage and traditions.
Amit Shah also announced that ‘Sengol‘, a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu that was received by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on August 14, 1947 to represent the transfer of power from the British to the Indians, will be installed in the new Parliament building.
‘Sengol’ is a word derived from the Tamil word ‘Semmai’, meaning ‘righteousness.’
The ‘Sengol’ to be installed in the new Parliament building is the original one received by Nehru.
The government is leaving no stone unturned to make the event a memorable and momentous one but as many as 19 opposition parties have announced that they will boycott the ceremony.
‘Government has invited everyone’: Amit Shah on Opposition boycott of new Parliament House inauguration
‘Soul of democracy has been sucked out’
The opposition parties, in a joint statement, have said they find no value in the new building when the “soul of democracy has been sucked out”.
They accuse the government and PM Modi of completely sidelining President Droupadi Murmu, who, according to the Constitution, is a constituent of Parliament.
The Constitution says Parliament consists of the President of India and the two Houses – Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The President does not sit or participate in the discussions of the two Houses, but has an important constitutional role in the functioning of Parliament. The President summons the Houses, presides over joint sittings, addresses the Houses, appoints pro-tem Speaker and acting chairman of Rajya Sabha and even nominates some members to both the Houses.
But the government has not extended an invitation to the President for the occasion. Even the Vice-President, who is the ex-officio chairman of Rajya Sabha, has been left out.
The opposition says this is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response and hence the boycott decision.
Targeting PM Modi, the parties have said,”Undemocratic acts are not new to the Prime Minister, who has relentlessly hollowed out Parliament. Opposition members of Parliament have been disqualified, suspended and muted when they raised the issues of the people of India. MPs from the treasury benches have disrupted Parliament.”
“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 in the joint statement.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said not letting President Droupadi Murmu inaugurate the new Parliament building as well as not inviting her to the ceremony is an “insult” to the country’s highest constitutional post.
“Parliament is not built by bricks of ego, but through constitutional values,” Rahul said in a tweet.
‘Making an issue out of non-issue’
But the government is unmoved and accuses the opposition of making an issue out of a non-issue.
Amit Shah said all political parties have been invited to the inauguration of the new Parliament building on May 28 and they will take a “call as per their wisdom.”
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) said that the opposition’s decision to boycott new Parliament building inauguration blatant affront to democratic, constitutional values of India.
Opposition’s flagrant disrespect to Parliament betrays intellectual bankruptcy, disturbing contempt for essence of democracy, said a statement by 14 parties in the ruling alliance.
Launching a counterattack it said, opposition’s stand against Droupadi Murmu’s presidential bid was insult to her and direct affront to SCs, STs.
Several Union ministers have slammed the opposition parties for playing politics over the issue.
The government says it is the prerogative of the Lok Sabha Speaker to decide who inaugurates the new building of Parliament.
Attacking the Congress, Urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said yesterday that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had inaugurated the Parliament Annexe building on October 24, 1975 and her successor Rajiv Gandhi had laid the foundation of the Parliament library on August 15, 1987.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has called the opposition boycott a “drama” and said they had never supported the project.
Divide within the opposition
Fortunately for the government, not all opposition parties are staying away.
There is a divide within the opposition, as always.
Andhra chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal have announced that they will be there for the function.
SAD, which is an ex-ally of the BJP, said, “The country is getting a new Parliament building and it is a moment of pride, and we do not want any politics to be played at this time.”
Also in attendance will be Odisha chief minister Niju Patnaik’s party the BJD.
The YSRCP and the BJD have bailed out the BJP on several occasions in the past. And this time too, they along with some other regional parties who see BJP as a potential ally, will ensure that the opposition remains a divided house over the boycott call.
The old Parliament building has seen several government-opposition logjams and this new building promises to be no different as it opens on a divided note.
(With inputs from agencies)Watch New Sansad building: Congress, TMC, RJD among 19 parties boycotting inauguration