• Wednesday, June 07, 2023


Modi government, opposition lock horns over India’s new parliament building inauguration

The opposition Indian National Congress has accused the government of “constitutional impropriety” by not requesting president Droupadi Murmu to inaugurate the building.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi inspects the new parliament building in New Delhi, India. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

The Narendra Modi government and the opposition have engaged in a bitter argument over the inauguration of India’s new parliament building by prime minister Narendra Modi on Sunday (28).

The opposition leaders have slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party government accusing it of “constitutional impropriety” by not requesting the president, Droupadi Murmu, the constitutional head of the republic, to inaugurate the building. They also criticised the government for picking the birthday of Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar as the day for inauguration. India’s secular forces consider Savarkar a divisive figure, while the Hindu nationalists consider him a hero.

Senior Indian National Congress parliamentarian Jairam Ramesh criticised the government’s decision to inaugurate the new parliament building “on the birth anniversary of the man who opposed Mahatma Gandhi vehemently all his life”. The BJP, on the other hand, defended the move saying the building was a matter of pride for all Indians.

Inauguration should be done by president, not PM, says Congress

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge wrote on Twitter, “The parliament of India is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India, and the President of India is its highest constitutional authority. She alone represents government, opposition, and every citizen alike. Inauguration of the new parliament building by her will symbolise [the] government’s commitment to democratic values and constitutional propriety.”

Earlier this week, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted that the new parliament house should be inaugurated by the president and not the prime minister.

Ashok Gehlot, chief minister of the north-western state of Rajasthan, backed Gandhi and said in a tweet in Hindi, “The Honourable President is the constitutional head of the country. Therefore, according to the respect of the constitution, morality and dignity of the Houses, it would be proper to inaugurate the new Parliament House by them only.”

The BJP on Monday (22) hit back at Rahul Gandhi saying he “starts beating his chest” whenever the country approaches a historic moment. Party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia told NDTV, “Why does this happen? When the country is progressing, he comes forward as a bad omen during auspicious times. He has such small thinking that he can’t welcome such a historic moment when the new Parliament building will become a temple of democracy.”

The four-storey new parliament building – designed by HCP Design, Planning and Management and constructed by Tata Projects – has raised the seating capacity and is built at at an estimated cost of Rs 9.7 billion (£94.2m).

The existing parliament building, a colonial-era structure, will also be in use.

The Congress is reportedly considering to boycott the event. Several opposition parties, including the grand-old party, stayed away from the building’s foundation-laying ceremony in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

PM Narendra Modi National Emblem
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi unveils a big bronze National Emblem cast on the roof of the new Parliament building in New Delhi on Monday, July 11, 2022. (ANI Photo/ ANI Pic Service)

New national emblem row

In July last year, the Modi government and the opposition traded barbs over the depiction of the national emblem cast atop the new parliament building after the latter accused that the emblem had little similarity with the original Sarnath emblem that features four Asiatic lions standing back to back on a circular base and the newly installed lions had a more ferocious look. The ruling party refused to accept the criticism with one minister saying, “Beauty is famously regarded as lying in the eyes of the beholder. So is the case with calm & anger.”

Modi unveiled the national emblem cast on the roof of the new parliament building.

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