19 political parties announce boycott of opening of new Parliament.

Nineteen political parties, including the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), on Wednesday issued a joint statement announcing the boycott of the new Parliament building’s opening, calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to preside over it “sidelining” President Droupadi Murmu “not only a grave insult” but a “direct assault on our democracy.”

The statement said the inauguration on May 28 is a momentous occasion and they were open to sinking their differences and marking this occasion. “However, Prime Minister 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,” the statement said.

It cited Constitution’s Article 79 and said the President is not only the Head of State but also an integral part of Parliament. “She summons, prorogues, and addresses the Parliament. She must assent for an Act of Parliament to take effect.”

The statement added that Modi 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. It undermines the spirit of inclusion which saw the nation celebrate its first woman Adivasi President.”

The statement said undemocratic acts are not new to the Prime Minister, “who has relentlessly hollowed out the Parliament”.

Shiv Sena (UBT), Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Kerala Congress (Mani), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (United), Nationalist Congress Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rashtriya Lok Dal, Indian Muslim League, National Conference, Revolutionary Socialist Party, and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam are among other parties boycotting the event.

Their statement came a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back at the criticism over Modi inaugurating the building. “In August 1975, then PM [Prime Minister] Indira Gandhi inaugurated the Parliament Annexe, and later in 1987 PM Rajiv Gandhi inaugurated the Parliament Library. If your [Congress] head of government can inaugurate them, why can’t our head of government do the same,” said Union minister Hardeep Puri.

The inauguration will take place inside the new Lok Sabha chamber which can accommodate nearly 900 people. It will showcase the modern facilities of the new building likely to start functioning from the monsoon session in July.

The two-hour-long event will include multi-faith prayers.

HT on Tuesday reported that all members of Parliament, chief ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, former President, former vice-president, and former Lok Sabha speakers have been invited to the event, which will start at 12 noon and end by 1.30pm.

The roads inside the Parliament complex have been given a fresh coat of bitumen as part of preparations for the opening. The existing Parliament building will be converted into a museum. It is getting a wash and new lawns have been laid around the new building.

Last week, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla met Modi and invited him to inaugurate the new building. In December 2020, Modi laid the foundation stone for the new building. The work was delayed due to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.

The current Parliament House was completed in 1927. It has a provision for the sitting of 543 Members in the Lok Sabha and 250 in the Rajya Sabha. Arrangements have been made for a meeting of 888 members in the Lok Sabha and 300 members in the Rajya Sabha in the newly constructed building of the Parliament.

The joint session of both Houses will be held in the Lok Sabha chamber and in that case, 1,280 lawmakers will be able to sit there.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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