In a joint statement on Wednesday, a bloc of 19 parties led by Congress said ignoring Murmu from the “momentous occasion…undermines the spirit of inclusion which saw the nation celebrate its first woman Adivasi President”.
We will boycott inauguration of new Parliament building: TMC
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi announced a boycott separately, while KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi hinted at following suit.
The joint statement of the 19 parties said Article 79 of the Constitution clearly states that Parliament shall consist of the President and the two Houses, which makes the President not only the head of the state but also “an integral part of Parliament”. It further accused the PM of repeated “undemocratic acts”, including disqualification of opposition MPs and passage of bills without debate.
“When the soul of democracy has been sucked out from Parliament, we find no value in a new building,” the statement said.
The boycott announcement confirmed the speculation which started after Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday lashed out at Modi’s decision to inaugurate the building himself, and insinuated that BJP was electing Dalit and tribal Presidents — Ramnath Kovind and Murmu — only for “electoral reasons” while reducing their offices to mere “token”.
The frontal attack from the Congress brass aimed at turning the tables on BJP’s political messaging among marginalised groups in the wake of election of Presidents from scheduled castes and tribes, suggested that a drastic step was in the works to target the PM. TOI reported on Tuesday that a boycott was likely and Congress had initiated consultations with like-minded parties on the issue.
The joint statement was signed by Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, JD(U), NCP, SP, Shiv Sena (Thackeray), RJD, JMM, AAP, CPM, CPI, National Conference, IUML, KC(M), RSP, VCK, MDMK and RLD. The coming onboard of SP is significant as Akhilesh Yadav did not attend the gathering of opposition parties during the oath-taking ceremony of the Congress government in Bengaluru.
Congress appears to be the leader of the pack in the fresh initiative given that it had launched a scathing attack on PM Modi when he set rolling the construction of a new Parliament during the Covid pandemic, repeatedly deriding it as a “vanity project” of the BJP mascot in a time of crisis.
Reprising the question about the need for a new Parliament, the joint statement said, “Despite our belief that the government is threatening democracy, and our disapproval of the autocratic manner in which the new Parliament was built, we were open to sinking our differences and marking this occasion. However, PM Modi’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building by himself, completely sidelining President Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response.”
It said the primacy of the President is evident from the fact that she “summons, prorogues and addresses Parliament”, and an Act passed by Parliament requires her approval for implementation. “Parliament cannot function without the President. Yet, the PM has decided to inaugurate the new Parliament building without her. This undignified act insults the high office of the President, and violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” the statement said.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Parliament is not made of bricks of ego, but of constitutional values.”
The opposition said Modi has “relentlessly hollowed out Parliament”, with opposition members disqualified, suspended and muted when they raised people’s issues. It alleged that controversial legislations like three farm laws were passed without debate while parliamentary committees have become redundant.
Watch New Sansad building: Congress, TMC, RJD among 19 parties boycotting inauguration