The struggle between the opposition and the government explained
The long-awaited new Parliament Building, a four-story structure that has 888 seats in the Lok Sabha Hall and 384 seats in the Rajya Sabha Hall, is attracting a lot of interest ahead of its inauguration on May 28.
The inauguration, which is meant to be a momentous occasion as India bids farewell to another symbol of British colonialism and embraces the idea of ”Aatmanirbhar Bharat”, has been reduced to a political fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) and Congress, which may lead the latter to boycott the event.
What is the debate about? Why is Congress considering boycotting the event? We have the answers for you.
Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate the new parliament building on May 28
What’s different about the new Parliament due to open at the end of May?
Where’s the president?
The row over the new Parliament building centers on who will inaugurate it on May 28.
On May 18, the Lok Sabha secretariat released a statement that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would inaugurate the new building symbolizing the spirit of a self-reliant India (Atmanirbhar Bharat) on May 28.
This has angered Congress and other opposition parties, who argue that it should be President Draupadi Murmu and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi who inaugurates the building. Congress Speaker Mallikarjun Kharge attacked the government for not inviting President Draupadi Murmu, saying the president’s office was reduced to “symbolism under the BJP-RSS government”.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Kharge was quick to say that even during the foundation-laying ceremony two years ago, the president – then Ram Nath Kovind – was sidelined. He further wrote: “She alone represents the government, the opposition and all citizens. She is the first citizen of India. The inauguration of the new parliament building by her will symbolize the government’s commitment to democratic values and constitutional ownership.
It seems that the Modi government ensured the election of the President of India among the Dalit and tribal communities purely for electoral reasons.
While the former president, Shri Kovind was not invited to the ceremony of laying the foundations of the new Parliament…
—Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) May 22, 2023
Kharge’s attack came a day after former MP and Congress speaker Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter that the president should inaugurate the new parliament, not the prime minister.
Several other Grand Old Party leaders also voiced their opposition to Modi’s inauguration of the triangular building on Sunday. Speaking to the media on Monday, top leader Anand Sharma said that the sovereignty of India, which belongs to the people of India, rests with the institution called Parliament of India, it was important for the president to inaugurate the new parliament building.
When asked if Congress would boycott the event on Sunday, “Congress has expressed concern as the main opposition party and we believe that constitutional propriety should be maintained and that the honorable president who is at the head of parliament should be requested by the government to be inaugurated.The Honorable Prime Minister has every right to be there and we are only pointing out what is constitutionally correct.
Other MPs from other opposition parties also questioned the president’s absence from the event. Trinamool Congress Leader in Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, said: “Parliament is not just a new building; it is an establishment with old traditions, values, precedents and rules — it is the foundation of Indian democracy. Prime Minister Modi does not understand this.
Ghanshyam Tiwari of the Samajwadi party said his party was of the view that “the new parliament building belongs to the whole nation and that the president, as head of parliament, should have inaugurated it…it would have also set the tone for an India where women have more say in leadership in politics.
Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) noted that the President is the head of Parliament according to India’s constitutional scheme. “He is the one who summons Parliament and addresses the first session of Parliament every year. According to the Constitution, the president is the head. The same thing happened in 2020 when the first stone of the new building was laid. The president was not invited. The prime minister also unveiled the national emblem…this government is practically converting India into a presidential form,” he said.
But who really runs Parliament?
The opposition’s argument that the President and not the Prime Minister inaugurates India’s new seat of power – Parliament – comes from the Constitution itself. Article 79 of the Constitution defines Parliament as follows: “There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two houses to be called the Council of States and the House of the People respectively.”
Also read: 9,500 kg and 6.5 meters high: all you need to know about the national emblem at the top of the new Parliament building
Furthermore, all decisions regarding the summoning of Parliament are vested in the President under Article 85. Other Articles of the Constitution also spell out the power of the President in relation to Parliament. For example, Article 86 states that “the President may address either House of Parliament or both Houses together and, for this purpose, require the presence of the members”.
Section 111 of the Constitution also states that no bill passed by both Houses of Parliament can become law without the assent of the President.
A Savarkar factor?
The Congress also expressed dismay at the BJP’s decision to inaugurate parliament on May 28, the birth anniversary of Hindu Rashtra supporter VD Savarkar.
Amit Malviya, the BJP’s IT chief, earlier tweeted: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the new parliament building on May 28, 2023, which also marks the 140th birth anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the great son of the ‘India”.
Congress Spokesman Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter to express his anger, saying, “A complete insult to all of our founding fathers and mothers. A total rejection of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Bose, et al. A blatant repudiation of Dr. Ambedkar.
Even TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray wrote on Twitter that in India’s 75th year of independence, it would have been fitting to inaugurate the new Parliament building on November 26 – the day the Constitution was was passed in 1949. “But it will be on May 28, Savarkar’s birthday – what’s the relevance?” Ray tweeted.
Also Read: What’s in a Name? How the new Parliament Building is at the center of the row of names
What did BJP say?
The BJP hit back at the opposition, especially in Congress, saying it used to engage in “cheap politics” of denigrating the country’s achievements.
Sources speaking to the news agency PTI said President Murmu had been approached for the event but wanted the Prime Minister to do it. “Whenever a good thing happens, Congress leaders resort to cheap politics that became its trademark under Rahul Gandhi. While the nation feels proud of the construction of the new parliament building, its leadership has crumbled again,” BJP Chief Spokesperson Anil Baluni said.
The party also said that in 1975 it was Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and not the President who opened the Parliament Annex.
Union Minister Hardeep Puri also waded into the row, saying Congress had a habit of stirring up controversy where none existed. “While the President is the Head of State, the Prime Minister is the Head of Government and leads Parliament on behalf of the Government, whose policies are implemented in the form of laws. The president is not a member of either house, while the prime minister is.
With contributions from agencies
Read all Latest news, New trends, Cricket News, bollywood news,
India News And Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.