Who should inaugurate Parliament – debate turns divisive

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, May 24: Nineteen Opposition parties have announced their boycott of the function to inaugurate the new parliament on May 28. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the new parliament.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Opposition leaders are sparring over on the issue of Modi inaugurating the new parliament by flashing the historical instances of similar events. Retired bureaucrats and journalists too have joined the discourse, taking sides on the divisive flavour of the issue.

The parliament is being inaugurated ahead of India hosting the G20 Summit in September, with the Modi government asserting its capability to conceive and complete marquee projects in time bound manner. The Tata group has built the new parliament within the stipulated time, though the building was to be thrown open far earlier.

The Congress led the Opposition to give a call that President Droupadi Murmu and not the prime minister should inaugurate the new parliament. President along with the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha constitutes the parliament. The President also addresses the first session of the parliament each year in which she briefs the parliamentarian about the works done by the government.

Eighteen Opposition parties, which includes the likes of the Aam Aadmi Party and the Trinamool Congress, have thrown their weight behind the boycott call of the event of the inauguration of the new parliament. At the outset, the Opposition appears to be carrying over the hangover of the Budget session of parliament, which had been washed out on the issue of the demand for constituting the joint parliamentary committee to probe into the allegations levelled by the US-based short seller Hindenburg against the Adani Group of companies.

From the BJP, the party’s IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya in a long Twitter post gave references to late Indira Gandhi and late Rajiv Gandhi inaugurating blocks of parliament while holding the office of the prime minister.

Rebutting his claims, Mohan Kumarmangalam, Tamil Nadu Congress president, stated that “President VV Giri laid the foundation stone of the Parliament Annexe in 1970. The parliament library in 2002 was inaugurated by then President KR Narayanan.”

Journalists Sumit Awasthi and Mrinal Pande also sparred over the issue. “The boycott call of the inauguration of the new parliament cannot at all be justified, for it belongs to all,” argued Awasthi, who is currently associated with Amar Ujala.

Pande, who is a former editor of Hindustan, countered, saying “the issue involves basic Constitutional proprieties, for President according to the Constitution is the head of the parliament”.

K C Singh, former aide of late Giani Zail Singh and ex-diplomat, who was President during the tenue of late Rajiv Gandhi, also lent his voice to the demand of the Opposition. He said that the “ribbons should be cut by the President who swears to defend and protect the Constitution”.

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