India's 1st post-colonial parliament building sees controversial opening

India's 1st post-colonial parliament building sees controversial opening

Opposition parties boycott inauguration as they insist president should have led ceremony

By Shuriah Niazi

NEW DELHI (AA) - The opening of India's new parliament building on Sunday by the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been marred in controversy with many opposition parties boycotting the inaugural ceremony.

This building will be the first of its kind in post-independence India as until now lawmakers were gathering in the colonial era parliament built in 1927.

Built at a cost of about $117 million, the new complex is built just across the old building that was built by British architects, two decades before India became a republic.

Bimal Patel, winner of the prestigious Padma Shri Award for civilians, is the architect of the new building.

The government said the new parliament is a "symbol of India's progress and will reflect the aspirations of 1,350 million Indians."

The new parliament has seating arrangements for 888 members in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) and 384 in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament).

The old building had the capacity for 800 lawmakers.

- Opposition demands inauguration by president

The opposition parties have demanded that the president inaugurate the new complex and not the prime minister.

Besides the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as many as 25 parties attended the inauguration, while 20 opposition parties boycotted the event.

In a joint statement, the national and regional parties said the president is not only the Head of State in India, but also an integral part of parliament as she summons, prorogues, and addresses it and "not inviting her to the opening ceremony is an affront to the country's highest constitutional post."

Digvijay Singh, a senior leader of the main opposition Congress party, reiterated that the president should have inaugurated the parliament.

“For the first time in the country, a tribal woman has become the President. Not inviting her to the inauguration ceremony of the new Parliament House is an insult to the office of the President because Article 79 of the Constitution provides that no programme related to the Parliament can be held without the consent of the President,” said Singh.

Political analyst and senior journalist Rashid Kidwai said that the inauguration ceremony should have included leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who is also Congress president.

“Attempts to dub the opposition anti-democracy is unfortunate. Entire concept of democratic norms are based on opposition. It is the government's job to bring opposition on board. It takes two to tango. The absence of social and political courtesies and lack of respect for each other is anti- democracy,” Kidwai told Anadolu.

- Top court dismisses petition

Meanwhile, India's Supreme Court had also dismissed a petition filed by the opposition parties seeking the court's direction to the government for inauguration of the new parliament building by President Droupadi Murmu.

The court said it cannot interfere with matters of parliament.

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