Indian Opposition Boycotts Inauguration of New Parliament Building in Delhi: At least twenty opposition parties in India boycotted the inauguration of the new Parliament building in the capital, New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to inaugurate the $120 million building as part of India’s Central Vista Project, which aims to move prominent institutions out of heritage buildings into larger modern facilities. However, amid an increasingly bitter political battle ahead of next year’s elections, the parties called for a boycott, casting a shadow over the festivities.
Controversy Over the Building of the New Parliament
The construction of the new Parliament building was controversial from the start in 2020. Opposition politicians, environmentalists, and members of the public slammed the high cost and argued that it was “wasteful.” They suggested that remodeling the heritage buildings was preferable to building a new complex. However, the government deemed it necessary, as the old building was showing signs of “distress and overutilization.”
The Opposition’s Grievances
The boycott reflects the strained relationship between the government and opposition parties who have accused Prime Minister Modi of being a megalomaniac leading an arrogant government. The opposition expressed their dissatisfaction with the plans for Modi to exclusively preside over the inauguration, while President Droupadi Murmu, the country’s first tribal head of state, was not invited. The parties said Modi’s decision is an insult to democracy and President Murmu, demanding a commensurate response.
“These Are Political Games,” Ruling Coalition Responds to Boycott
The ruling coalition responded by dismissing the criticism as a “blatant affront to democratic ethos and constitutional values of our great nation.” They called it a political stunt and labeled the opposition’s claims baseless and fabricated. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that it is “ironic” that opposition parties that opposed Murmu’s candidacy for President are now pushing for her to open the building, calling for opposition members to “rethink” the boycott.
Experts Weigh in on the Boycott
Legal experts have mixed opinions on the boycott. Several argue that there is no constitutional requirement for the President to inaugurate the new Parliament building. However, some believe that the person holding the highest constitutional office should still do it. India’s President, although indirectly elected, is the country’s highest constitutional authority and holds only ceremonial powers. The opposition’s decision to boycott the inauguration casts a shadow on the important event.
The boycott of the inauguration by opposition parties reflects the deepening divide between the ruling and opposition camps in India. It remains uncertain whether the boycott will lead to more competitive elections, as Modi seeks a third term or merely deepen the existing political rifts. Experts suggest that the opposition may be pursuing political games, while others think the boycott is about the spirit of the constitution and democracy. In the end, the controversy over the new building serves as a microcosm of a more significant struggle for power in Indian political life.