As many as 20 opposition parties have said they will boycott the inauguration event on May 28, saying that President Murmu should inaugurate the building and not PM Modi. The government has lashed out at the parties for politicising the issue and accused them of disrespecting democracy and being “against development and progress”.
Here are the key developments of the day …
SC refuses to entertain PIL
The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a PIL seeking direction that the new Parliament building should be inaugurated by President Droupadi Murmu on May 28.
A bench of justices JK Maheshwari and PS Narasimha told petitioner in-person advocate Jaya Sukin that the court understands why and how this petition was filed and it is not inclined to entertain this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The petitioner had said that under Article 79, the president is the executive head of the country and she should have been invited. He, however, said if the court does not wish to entertain the petition, he be allowed to withdraw it.
Why does Congress ‘hate’ Indian culture so much: Amit Shah
Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday accused the Congress of reducing the ceremonial sceptre Sengol, which will be installed near the chair of the speaker in the new Parliament building, to a “walking stick”.
Shah said the Congress needs to “reflect” on its behaviour as he denounced the party’s claim that there was no evidence of the Sengol being a symbol of transfer of power by the British to India in 1947.
“Why does the Congress party hate Indian traditions and culture so much? A sacred Sengol was given to Pandit Nehru by a holy Saivite Mutt from Tamil Nadu to symbolize India’s freedom but it was banished to a museum as a ‘walking stick’,” Shah tweeted.
‘Sad, unfortunate’: Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam on Congress’s ‘bogus’ claim
The Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam on Friday also objected to Congress’s claim of no documented evidence of Sengol being the symbol of transfer of power by Britain to India in 1947.
Trying to reduce the importance of the use of Sengol as a symbol of transfer of power for the sake of politics is sad and unfortunate, Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam said in an official release.
The Adheenam was reacting to Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s claim that there is no documented evidence of Lord Mountbatten, C Rajagopalachari and Jawaharlal Nehru describing the ‘Sengol’ as a symbol of transfer of power by the British to India.
Ramesh also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his drum-beaters are using the ceremonial sceptre for their political ends in Tamil Nadu.
There should be a limit to doing politics: Jaishankar
Meanwhile, external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday described the opposition boycott as “unfortunate” and said there should be a limit to doing politics.
He said the inauguration of the new Parliament building should be celebrated as a festival by the entire nation.
“I believe that the inauguration of the new Parliament building should be taken as a festival of democracy and it should be celebrated in that spirit. It should not be made a subject of controversy. It is unfortunate if it becomes a subject of controversy,” said Jaishankar, who represents Gujarat in Rajya Sabha.
“Some people are trying (to create a controversy). But I believe that there should be a limit to indulging in politics. At least on such occasions, the entire country should come together and celebrate this festival,” said the Union minister.
Nadda slams opposition’s ‘dynastic leadership’
BJP president J P Nadda also took a swipe at opposition parties, saying what connects them is their dynastic leadership whose “monarchic” methods are at loggerheads with the principles of the Constitution.
The parties boycotting the inauguration lack any commitment to democracy because their sole aim is to perpetuate a select group of dynasties, he tweeted, adding such an approach is an insult to the makers of the Constitution.
These parties must introspect, he said.
Inauguration not a political party’s programme: Raut
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said the inauguration is a national event and not a programme of a political party as he lashed out at BJP.
“We are not against the inauguration of the new (Parliament) building. We want to know why the President of India has not been invited. Where is the Vice-President, who is the chairman of the Rajya Sabha? Speaker Om Birla’s name figures in the invitation list,” Raut told reporters.
Raut wondered if LK Advani because of whom BJP has now seen “acche din” has been kept away from the function.
“Instead of responding to questions, BJP is giving excuses like Indira Gandhi inaugurating an extension of the existing Parliament building and Rajiv Gandhi inaugurating the Parliament library,” Raut said.
BJP trying to change history: JD(U)
BJP’s former ally JD(S) said the saffron party is trying to change the country’s history with the inauguration of the new building.
“We would not become the part of history which the BJP is trying to change through the new parliament house… We will boycott the inauguration event. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament house building. The President of India should inaugurate it. Who is the Prime Minister to inaugurate it?” JD(U) national president Lalan Singh said.
Kumaraswamy calls Congress ‘hypocrite’
JD(S) leader and former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy accused the grand old party of hypocrisy for boycotting the inauguration.
A day after former prime minister and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda announced his decision to attend the inauguration, his son and the JD(S) second-in-command Kumaraswamy said the call given by Congress showed its double standard to advance its “trivial politics” to turn votes in its favour by “pleasing certain communities”.
The JD(S) leader, however, clarified that the stand taken should not be perceived as his party’s soft corner for the BJP.
“In Karnataka too, the foundation of the Vikasa Soudha was inaugurated by the then Congress Chief Minister (Dharam Singh) in 2005 and not the Governor (at the time). This is the doublespeak of Congress, which seeks to turn votes in its favour by raising trivial political issues to appease certain communities,” Kumaraswamy said.
Inauguration programme to begin from 7.30am
The inauguration of the new Parliament building will start from 7.30am on May 28 with the handing over of the “Sengol”, officials said on Thursday.
This will be followed by a Sarv Dharm Prayer and Puja.
“I will be meeting PM Modi and presenting the ‘Sengol’ to him,” said Sri Harihara Desika Swamigal, the 293rd head priest of Madurai Adheenam.
The historic sceptre ‘Sengol’ was received by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on August 14, 1947, to represent the symbol of the transfer of power from the Britishers to India. The same spectre will be handed over to PM Modi by the head priest of Madurai Adheenam on May 28.
About new Parliament
The new, triangular-shaped parliament complex is just across from the heritage building built by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker in 1927, two decades before India’s independence.
The old Parliament will be converted into a museum, the government has said.
It has said a new parliament building is badly needed as the existing structure “is highly stressed” for a number of reasons including capacity, infrastructure, technology and safety.
The new building, Modi said when he launched its construction in December 2020 during the pandemic, “would become a witness to the creation of a self-reliant India”, underlining another pet theme.
Besides modern technology, the new parliament has a total of 1,272 seats in two chambers, nearly 500 more than the old building, and at least three times as much space.
It features four storeys and halls themed according to the national symbols of the peacock, lotus and banyan tree, and murals, sculptures and art from across the country capturing 5,000 years of Indian civilisation, said an architect directly involved in the project.
(With inputs from agencies)