In a significant move, 19 opposition parties have jointly announced their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new parliament building in Delhi. The parties have expressed their dissatisfaction with the perceived sidelining of the President of India, leading them to release a joint statement outlining their concerns.
The statement issued by the opposition parties criticizes what they perceive as the erosion of democratic values within the parliament. It reads, “When the soul of democracy has been sucked out of parliament, we find no value in a new building. We announce our collective decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building. 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.”
While the opposition parties acknowledge their differences with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), they had initially expressed a willingness to set aside those differences and participate in the inauguration. However, their decision to boycott stems from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to inaugurate the Parliament building alone, allegedly sidelining President Droupadi Murmu.
The joint statement emphasizes the significance of the President’s role as both the Head of State and an integral part of the Parliament. Referring to Article 79 of the Constitution, the opposition parties highlight that the President summons, prorogues, and addresses the Parliament and must provide assent for an Act of Parliament to take effect. They argue that the Parliament cannot function without the President’s involvement and criticize the Prime Minister’s decision to inaugurate the new building without her as a grave insult and a direct assault on democracy.
The opposition parties further accuse Prime Minister Modi of undermining the Parliament, stating that he has “relentlessly hollowed out” its functioning. This joint statement comes as the opposition has increasingly united against the BJP, particularly following the controversial disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from the Lok Sabha after his conviction in the ‘Modi surname’ case.
Notable signatories of the joint statement include the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, with the latter being an ally of the Congress in Maharashtra and the former in Tamil Nadu. Additionally, the Janata Dal (United) led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has made efforts to unite opposition leaders ahead of the 2024 general election, has also expressed its support for the boycott.
The opposition parties’ decision to boycott the inauguration sends a strong message about their concerns regarding the functioning of democracy and the role of the President in the parliamentary system. As the political landscape continues to evolve, the nation eagerly awaits the response and actions from the government in light of this significant development.