The Opposition on Thursday stepped up its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the inauguration of the new Parliament building, with the Congress saying "one man's ego and desire for self-promotion" has denied the first tribal woman president her constitutional privilege to inaugurate the complex.
As the political row over the opening of the building here on Sunday escalated, the BJP hit back alleging that the opposition parties have decided to boycott the inauguration just because it has been built at the initiative of Prime Minister Modi.
The BJP also appealed to the opposition parties to attend the "historic day" of its inauguration by showing "big heart".
As many as 20 opposition parties including the Congress have announced their boycott of the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Modi. On the other hand, 25 parties have said they will participate in the inauguration and these include seven non-NDA parties.
The BSP, Shiromani Akali Dal, Janata Dal (Secular), Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), YSR Congress, BJD and TDP are the seven non-NDA parties. The presence of these seven parties, which together account for 50 MPs in the Lok Sabha, will be a major relief for the BJP-led NDA. Their participation will also help the NDA blunt the Opposition's charge that it is all a government event.
BSP president Mayawati called the opposition boycott inappropriate and welcomed the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Modi. She also said the opposition should have thought about "tribal honour" when it fielded a candidate against Murmu and denied her an unopposed election.
Nineteen Opposition parties, including the Congress, Left, TMC, Samajwadi Party(SP) and AAP, have jointly announced the boycott, saying they find no value in a new building when the "soul of democracy has been sucked out". Separately, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has said if Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla does not inaugurate the new Parliament building, his party would not attend the event.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on Thursday said it will take part in the inauguration of the new Parliament building with party chief N Chandrababu Naidu instructing Rajya Sabha MP Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar to represent the party. The JD(S) supremo and former prime minister Deve Gowda also said he would attend the inauguration.
Attacking the prime minister, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the "arrogance" of the Modi government has "destroyed" the parliamentary system.
"Mr Modi, Parliament is the temple of democracy established by the people. The office of the President is the first part of Parliament. The arrogance of your government has destroyed the parliamentary system," Kharge said in a tweet in Hindi.
The All India Adivasi Congress accused the Modi government of "insulting" tribals by not getting Droupadi Murmu, the country's first tribal president, to inaugurate the new Parliament building. It also announced a nationwide protest against the move on May 26.
In a tweet, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "Yesterday, President Draupadi (sic) Murmu inaugurated the country's largest judicial campus at the Jharkhand High Court complex in Ranchi. It is one man's ego and desire for self-promotion that has denied the first Adivasi woman President her Constitutional privilege to inaugurate the new Parliament building in New Delhi on May 28th."
"Ashoka the Great, Akbar the Great, Modi the Inaugurate," Ramesh said.
Hitting out at Opposition parties, the BJP alleged that the opposition parties have decided to boycott the inauguration just because it has been built at the PM's initiative.
Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the new building is a symbol of India's pride and appealed to the opposition parties to attend the "historic day" of its inauguration by showing a "big heart".
"We all respect the President, I don't want to drag the post of the President into any controversy today by recalling what Congress said about her. But India's prime minister is also an important part of Parliament. The prime minister also holds constitutional responsibility," he told reporters.
Prasad urged the opposition leaders not to use the boycott of the event as a platform to forge opposition unity, saying they will have more opportunities to do so.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also hit out at the opposition parties, saying they were making a "disgusting" attempt to create a controversy.
Some opposition leaders also accused the Modi government of being "authoritarian".
"Boycott of Parliament Building opening by 20 parties representing the diversity and pluralism of India is a response to boycott of parliamentary traditions by an authoritarian government. The 'NDA statement' pulled out by BJP is telling. A once large coalition now virtually extinct!" said TMC MP Derek O' Brien.
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury underlined that the president and not the prime minister should inaugurate the new building.
"Modi to inaugurate new Parliament building! The President of India is not only the head of the Republic but also the head of the Parliament. PM is head of the govt- Executive- & not of the Legislature," he said.
TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale referred to the prime minister inaugurating every Vande Bharat train and his photo on Covid-19 vaccinations and said it was a "hallmark of authoritarians".
CPI MP Binoy Viswam said issues raised by the opposition have remained unanswered and questioned how the government has asked the opposition to reconsider their decision to boycott the opening ceremony.
The opposition parties contend that President Murmu should do the honours as she was not only the Head of State, but also an integral part of Parliament as she summons, prorogues, and addresses it.