The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance on Wednesday launched a sharp counterattack on Opposition parties for their decision to boycott the new Parliament building’s inauguration, slamming their stand as a “blatant affront to democratic ethos and constitutional values of our great nation”.
In a statement, leaders of 14 parties of the ruling alliance also implored the Opposition parties to reconsider their decision and said the people of India will not forget their “egregious insult to our democracy and to their elected representatives” if they stick to their stand.
“Their actions today will echo through the annals of history, casting a long shadow over their legacy. We urge them to think about the nation and not individual political gains,” they said in the statement.
Noting that Parliament is a hallowed institution, the beating heart of India’s democracy and the epicentre of decision-making that shapes and influences the lives of citizens, they said the Opposition’s “flagrant disrespect” towards this institution betrays not only intellectual bankruptcy but a disturbing contempt for the very essence of democracy.
With the Congress and several other parties claiming that the May 28 inauguration of the building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and not by President Droupadi Murmu is an insult to the highest constitutional office, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) hit back.
It recalled their opposition to her presidential bid as the NDA candidate and said their “disrespect” shown towards her was a new low in political discourse.
“The staunch opposition to her candidature is not just an insult to her but a direct affront to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes of our nation,” they said in the statement.
“This act (boycott) is not merely disrespectful; it is a blatant affront to the democratic ethos and constitutional values of our great nation,” the NDA said.
The signatories to the letter included BJP president J P Nadda, Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, NPP leader and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Nagaland Chief Minister Nefu Rio (NDPP), Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang (SKM), Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga (Mizo National Front) and Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala (Jananayak Janata Party).
RLJP leader and Union Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras, Republican Party leader and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, Apna Dal (S) leader and Union Minister Anupriya Patel are among the other signatories to the letter.
Regrettably, these leaders said, this is not the first instance of such disdain of Opposition parties towards Parliament.
Over the past nine years, they have repeatedly shown scant regard for parliamentary procedures, disrupted sessions, staged walkouts during crucial legislations and demonstrated an alarming lackadaisical attitude towards their parliamentary duties, the NDA leaders said.
“This recent boycott is just another feather in their cap of disregard for democratic processes. The audacity of these Opposition parties to preach about parliamentary decency and constitutional values is, in the light of their actions, nothing short of laughable,” they said in the statement.
The Opposition’s hypocrisy knows no bounds, the NDA said, noting that it had boycotted the special GST session presided over by former president Pranab Mukherjee, skipped the ceremony when Mukherjee was awarded the Bharat Ratna and even extended a “late courtesy call” to Ramnath Kovind upon his election as president.
The ruling alliance said the Opposition’s conduct is rooted in history.
“The same parties imposed the Emergency, a horrifying period in India’s history, suspending civil liberties and democratic processes. Their habitual misuse of Article 356 further exposes their blatant disregard for constitutional principles,” it said, in a swipe at the Congress.
The NDA said it is painfully apparent that the Opposition shuns Parliament because it represents the will of the people, a will that has repeatedly rejected their “antiquated and self-serving politics”.
“Their preference for semi-monarchic governments and family-run parties shows an aversion to vibrant democracy, an ideology incongruent with the ethos of our nation. Their unity is marked not by a shared vision for national development, but by a shared practice of vote bank politics and a propensity for corruption,” it said.
These parties can never hope to fulfil the aspirations of the people, the NDA added.
What these parties are perpetrating is a “disgrace” to the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Sardar Patel and the legacy of countless others who served this nation faithfully, it alleged.
Their actions tarnish the values these leaders upheld and worked tirelessly to instil in the country’s democracy, the ruling alliance said.
“As we celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is not divisiveness we need, but unity and a shared commitment to the welfare of our people,” the NDA leaders said in the statement, urging for a reconsideration of the Opposition’s boycott decision.
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK leader E Palaniswami, MP G K Vasan of the Tamil Maanila Congress, AJSU’s Sudesh Mahto and Devanathan of IMKMK are also part of the NDA statement.
As many as 19 Opposition parties, including Congress, TMC, SP and AAP had earlier announced their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building, saying they find no value in a new building when the “soul of democracy has been sucked out”.
They said Prime Minister Modi’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building by himself, “completely sidelining President Droupadi Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response”.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)