- Written by Sherilan Mullan
- BBC News, Mumbai
India’s new parliament is set to open this weekend amid a political row, with 19 opposition parties saying they will boycott the ceremony.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the building on Sunday.
Leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party accused the opposition of “playing political games”.
On Wednesday, 19 parties – including the main opposition Congress party – issued a pronouncement statement Announcing their “collective decision” to boycott the inauguration ceremony.
They said that while the inauguration was a “momentous occasion”, Mr Modi’s decision to “open the building himself” was a “serious affront”. [and] A direct attack on India’s democracy.
The statement also noted that opposition MPs were “dismissed, suspended and silenced” while “controversial legislation” was passed with little debate.
The parties added, “When the spirit of democracy was taken from Parliament, we do not find any value in a new building.”
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah He said That all political parties were invited to celebrate, and they called on the opposition not to politicize the event.
“The government has asked everyone to come. Everyone will act according to their feelings,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Relations between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and most opposition parties are tense, often leading to deadlocks during Parliament sessions. Recently, opposition leaders protested after the exclusion of Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi from parliament after he was sentenced to jail in a defamation case.
Leaders of the ruling National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party criticized the opposition’s statement, describing it as “an outrageous affront to our democracy and to their elected representatives”. They also asked the opposition to “think about the nation, not individual political gain”.
Opposition leaders have also criticized the government’s choice of date for the celebration, which coincides with the birth anniversary of Hindutva theorist V. D. Savarkar.
Not all opposition parties are on the same page on this issue – some regional parties such as Biju Janata Dal and YSR Congress Party will attend the ceremony.
The new parliament building – which is part of the government’s ambitious project to develop the Central Vista electricity corridor in the capital, Delhi – has been controversial from the outset.
Many opposition politicians, environmentalists, and civil society groups have criticized the project for its prohibitive cost, and claim that the government did not consult other legislators and the public. They also questioned the government’s decision to build a new parliament building instead of modernizing the old one.
The government, however, said that the new parliament was necessary Where the older building was “showing signs of distress and overuse”.
The new building – designed by HCP Design, Planning and Management and constructed by Tata Projects – has increased seating capacity and was built at an estimated cost of 9.7 billion rupees ($117.1 million, £94.2 million).
In 2020, so was Congress Interrupt The groundbreaking of the new Parliament occurred, and the government was criticized for convening it at a time when the peasantry was protesting three controversial new laws.
The current feud has generated much controversy in India, with some commentators saying it reflects cracked environment The ruling party and the opposition are unable to reach an agreement on most issues.
Indian Express newspaper arguein an editorial, that although the opposition had real grievances, it had to find a way to rise above it to celebrate this historic moment.
“It cannot – nor should it be – that when posterity looks into the photo album of this diverse nation, they see a Parliament so empty and monochromatic because 19 parties could not have moved beyond their grievances, legitimate though they were, to accept them as the larger occasion.”
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