On the issue of boycott of the new parliament building, 19 opposition parties, including the Congress, TMC, SP, AAP, among others, have decided to join hands. (File)
The new parliament building is opening on the edifice of acrimony between the government and opposition. A sign that in the run-up to 2024, this rift is likely to widen
It is time for opposition unity, especially with the Congress winning a bitterly fought election against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka. The latest battleground now is the new parliament building.
It all began with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla announcing that PM Narendra Modi would inaugurate the new building, built in a record time, on May 28. Then began the protests with the Congress taking the lead.
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First, Rahul Gandhi cryptically tweeted that the president and not the PM should inaugurate it.
राष्ट्रपति से संसद का उद्घाटन न करवाना और न ही उन्हें समारोह में बुलाना – यह देश के सर्वोच्च संवैधानिक पद का अपमान है।संसद अहंकार की ईंटों से नहीं, संवैधानिक मूल्यों से बनती है।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 24, 2023
The Congress president took it a step further and played the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Dalit card, accusing the BJP and PM of being anti-Dalit and backward. He alleged that former president Kovind was not invited for the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the new building, while the current president Droupadi Murmu has not been invited for the inauguration.
It looks like the Modi Govt has ensured election of President of India from the Dalit and the Tribal communities only for electoral reasons. While Former President, Shri Kovind was not invited for the New Parliament foundation laying ceremony…
— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) May 22, 2023
The stand by Kharge is significant. All eyes are on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, as also the upcoming state polls. The Congress hopes to do well in 2024, by wooing the SC, ST and backwards. It feels that this has been their strong vote bank and worked for them in Karnataka as well.
Hence the twist to the boycott politics.
The opposition stands divided on the ordinance issue which does a rollback on power given to the Delhi government by the Supreme Court on appointments. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been reaching out to opposition parties namely the Janata Dal United (JDU), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Shiv Sena to get support on this. But with the Congress not playing ball, the division in the opposition ranks is visible.
On the issue of boycott of the new parliament building, 19 opposition parties, including the Congress, TMC, Samajwadi Party (SP), AAP, among others, have decided to join hands.
The boycott could, however, pose a problem for the opposition parties on two counts.
One, the new building epitomises ‘aatmanirbharta or self-reliance’ also a counter to the colonial legacy. The BJP will make a point that the opposition parties have scant regard for Indian-ness and work done by workers. Also, that opposition parties led by the Congress care more about our colonial masters and foreigners than us. On nationalism and national interest issues, the Congress, like few other opposition parties, have been on the backfoot. For the Lok Sabha at least, the BJP and PM are bound to make this an issue.
Also, the inauguration is being preceded by a small havan and this again is being objected to by party leaders. Interestingly, keeping the Hindutva vote bank in mind, none of the other opposition parties are likely to make this an issue.
In the last parliament session, the opposition had ganged up against the government, citing scant regard for them. Also the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi was the bonding factor.
ALSO READ | ‘Almost All’ Oppn Parties to Boycott New Parliament Building Inauguration; SAD, BRS Yet to Decide
Not surprisingly, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), YSR Congress and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) will participate in the inauguration. These parties, of late, have been running close to the BJP and the TDP certainly has been cosying up to the BJP in the hope of rejoining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
The new parliament building is opening on the edifice of acrimony between the government and opposition. A sign that in the run-up to 2024, this rift is likely to widen.