Amid the opposition's call to boycott the inauguration ceremony of the central vista project and factions criticizing the government for excluding the President, the central government is busy preparing for the event.
Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a subtly critical remark about the opposition for choosing to skip the opening of the new Parliament building.
After ending a three-nation tour that included Japan, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, the PM arrived in Delhi today.
Referring to a recent community event in Sydney that attracted over 20,000 attendees, Prime Minister Modi claimed that in addition to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the entire opposition as well as the country's former PM were all present for the benefit of their country.
"The former prime minister attended that event as well. Both the ruling party and the opposition had members of parliament. They all participated in the community activity,” the PM remarked.
The opposition was criticized by the PM for querying the Centre about distributing the Covid vaccination to other nations during the height of the outbreak.
"They questioned why Modi was providing vaccines to the world during emergencies. Keep in mind that this is the country where Gandhi and Buddha both lived. We are the compassionate people who care about everyone, even our enemies,” remarked PM Modi.
On Sunday 28th May, the Prime Minister will officially inaugurate the new Parliament building, but there will be hardly any opposition supporters there. Up to 20 parties have declared their intention to abstain from the inauguration.
"Prime Minister Modi's plan to inaugurate the new parliament building all by himself, excluding President Murmu entirely, is not only a serious disrespect but also an outright attack on our democracy. This dishonorable behavior offends the President's lofty position and runs counter to the word and spirit of the law. It undermines the spirit of inclusion that saw the nation celebrate its first woman Adivasi President,” the opposition parties claimed in a statement.
"The Prime Minister has consistently hollowed out the Parliament, therefore he is not new to undemocratic actions. When opposition lawmakers voiced issues affecting the Indian people, they were disqualified, suspended, and hushed. We see no value in a new edifice when the spirit of democracy has been drained out of the parliament,” they added.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which launched a scathing retaliation against the opposition, referred to the boycott as a "blatant affront to democratic ethos and constitutional values of our great nation."
The Prime Minister follows the Vice President of India in the order of precedence, with the President of India holding the top spot. But in the new India created after 2014 and used to support every move the Modi government has made, no one is concerned with constitutional niceties and protocol.
After performing the bhumi poojan ceremony and laying the building's foundation stone on December 10, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to officially inaugurate the structure on May 28, the anniversary of Hindu nationalist politician, activist, and author V.D. Savarkar.
Modi examined the structure and the unfinished halls during the building's construction, and the national media prominently and extensively reported the event.
As part of the ambitious Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista development, the structure has been under construction for the previous three years.
After determining that the existing structure required several modifications in order to accommodate Parliamentarians, the government made the decision to construct the new Parliament.
The Central Vista plan proposes to carry out a number of initiatives to update the government infrastructure, which has not undergone major alterations in many years. A few months before the Covid-19 epidemic started, in September 2019, the project's master plan was established.
Tata Group won the bid to erect the new legislature. The project's initial cost, according to the official Central Vista website, was Rs 862 crore.
However, a government response to a question in the Lok Sabha in 2021 revealed that the project's anticipated cost had increased to Rs 971 crore.
According to reports, this wasn't the only time the project's cost increased. An NDTV story from January 2022 claims that the projected cost increased, bringing the total to over Rs 1,250 crore.
The Central Vista project gives "direct livelihood opportunities to more than 10,000 skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers on site and off-site," according to the government's response before the Lok Sabha.
In fairness, the President of India should have been asked to inaugurate the Parliament as head of State and above all party considerations, as opposed to the Prime Minister, who is the head of the executive branch.
Mallikarjun Kharge, the president of the Indian National Congress and the opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, accused the Modi administration of "repeatedly disrespecting propriety" by refusing to invite the President and previous presidents to the groundbreaking of the new Parliament building. He also claimed that the office of the President had been "reduced to tokenism under the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh government." In his additional statement, he stated that the administration had "ensured the election of the President of India from the Dalit and the tribal communities only for electoral reasons."
According to Article 79 of the Constitution, the President of India, the Rajya Sabha, and the Lok Sabha make up the Parliament. In this respect, the President is a member of the supreme legislature, which, according to the doctrine of the separation of powers, occupies a separate position within the constitutional system of government from the executive and the judicial branches.
As the Prime Minister and a Lok Sabha member, Modi is in charge of the government's executive branch. The President should have been rightfully invited to officially open the new Parliament building in accordance with the intent and logic of Article 79, which states that the President of India, the Rajya Sabha, and the Lok Sabha make up the Parliament.
In addition to being required by the Constitution to form the Parliament, the President is required by Article 86 of the Constitution to address both Houses of Parliament when they are gathered together to begin the first session of the Parliament following each general election to the House of the People as well as the first session of each year. Furthermore, without the President's approval, no Bill that was approved by both Houses would become an Act of the Parliament.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Constitution is the President's close and essential connection with the Parliament.
Some opposition figures, including Congressman Rahul Gandhi, Professor Manoj K. Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, D. Raja of the Communist Party of India, and Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, believe that President Droupadi Murmu should inaugurate the new Parliament building rather than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A petition has been submitted to the Supreme Court asking for instructions to the Lok Sabha Secretariat to arrange for the inauguration of the new parliament building by Droupadi Murmu, the President of India.
The plea, made by attorney CR Jaya Sukin, claimed that the Indian Constitution had been broken by the statement made by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on May 18 and the invitations sent out by the Secretary General of the Lok Sabha for the opening ceremony of the new building.
The argument stated, "That President is the First Citizen of India in this regard and head of the institution of parliament...That all significant national decisions are made in the name of Indian President."
The argument claimed that the President has the power to convene and prorogue the parliament as well as dissolve the Lok Sabha, and that the President and the two Houses of the parliament—the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha—hold the supreme legislative authority in India.
The argument was made that the President is a crucial component of the parliament and shouldn't be excluded from the inauguration, citing Article 79 of the Indian Constitution. This, in the petitioner's opinion, demonstrated negligence on the part of the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
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