New Delhi: In a show of unity, 19 Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Left and the TMC, on Wednesday announced their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying they find no value in a new building when "the soul of democracy has been sucked out". Miffed over the "sidelining" of President Droupadi Murmu on the occasion, the Opposition said the inauguration by the PM is an "insult to the President" and a "direct attack on democracy".
The government termed the Opposition move "unfortunate" and urged them to reconsider their stand while asserting that the Lok Sabha Speaker is the custodian of Parliament and the Speaker has invited the Prime Minister.
Union home minister Amit Shah said invitations for the inauguration of the new Parliament building have been sent to all political parties, which are free to act according to their wisdom.
Notwithstanding the Opposition boycott call, the non-NDA parties, including the YSRC, AIADMK, TD and the BJD, are likely to attend the ceremony. The NDA ally Shiv Sena (Shinde camp) and the former ally Akali Dal will be joining the ceremony.
Noting that the inauguration of the new Parliament building is a momentous occasion, the Opposition parties in a 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".
The Opposition parties argued the President is not only the head of state in India but also an integral part of Parliament as she summons, prorogues and addresses it.
The joint statement reads: "In short, Parliament cannot function without the President. Yet the Prime Minister 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. It undermines the spirit of inclusion, which saw the nation celebrate its first woman adivasi President."
The Congress, Trinamul Congress, DMK, JD (U), AAP, CPM, CPI, SP, NCP, SS (UBT), RJD, IUML, JMM, NC, KC (M), RSP, VCK, MDMK and the RLD are the signatories of the joint statement.
When asked about the Opposition's planned boycott, Shah said, "The government of India has invited everyone to be present at the inauguration. Everyone will act as per their wisdom."
Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi also urged the Opposition parties to attend the ceremony, saying, "Boycotting and making an issue out of a non-issue is most unfortunate. I appeal to them to reconsider their decision and join the function."
Meanwhile, amid the boycott call by 19 parties of the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament building, the NCP urged the Prime Minister to make a personal request to the President to do the honours.
Reacting to the issue, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "Neither getting the President to inaugurate the Parliament nor inviting her to the ceremony is an insult to the country's highest constitutional post. Parliament is not constructed by bricks of ego but through constitutional values."
Slamming the Prime Minister, the Opposition parties in their joint statement said, "Undemocratic acts are not new to the Prime Minister, who has relentlessly hollowed out Parliament. The Opposition MPs have been disqualified, suspended and muted when they raised the issues of the people of India. The MPs from the Treasury Benches have disrupted Parliament."
"Many controversial legislations, including the three farm laws, have been passed with almost no debate and Parliamentary Committees have been practically made defunct," the parties alleged.