NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes to see his imprint on every public space, including Covid certificates that carry his beaming face and leave foreign immigration officials scratching their heads.
On Sunday, the prime minister will inaugurate a new parliament building in New Delhi, and the majority of opposition parties are boycotting the event saying that President Draupadi Murmu should have presided over the constitutional event and not the publicity-hungry prime minister.
That the new parliament will carry his imprint, not the Indian president’s, has not been accepted by most parties. Two ruling parties from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, however, announced their decision to attend the inaugural ceremony.
Nineteen opposition parties, including the Congress and Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party, on Wednesday issued a joint statement announcing the boycott and called the inauguration a “grave insult” and “direct assault” on democracy. They had flagged that President Draupadi Murmu was not unveiling it, which was an insult to the nation.
The announcement by Orissa’s BJD comes just two weeks after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. He said later that he had spoken to the PM on expediting work on the Jagannath International Airport, for which he said the PM had assured all support.
Speaking later to reporters he had reaffirmed his party’s policy to fight elections on its own and had said that he did not see a possibility of a third front. This move by BJD confirms that the party is as of now unlikely to change its policy of being equidistant from the BJP and the Congress, at least before the 2024 general and state assembly polls.
Similarly, the Centre only recently had approved the biggest-ever tranche of funds to Andhra Pradesh since the state’s bifurcation in June 2014. Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has also largely remained in subtle support of the Centre’s policies, joining the opposition only in select cases.
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Prahlad Joshi had said that the opposition’s boycott of the event was unfortunate. “I would like to tell them that this is a historic event. This is not the time for politics…Boycotting and making issues out of a non-issue is most unfortunate. I appeal to them to reconsider their decision and join this historical function,” he added.
While Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have confirmed their attendance, some others such as Shiv Sena (Shinde faction), Bahujan Samaj Part (BSP) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) are expected to be there.
Apart from Congress and AAP, the ones that have announced a boycott include the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Shiv Sena (UBT), Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (United), Nationalist Congress Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rashtriya Janata Dal and others.
Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2023