New Delhi: The inauguration of the new parliament building on May 29 is mired in controversies for multiple factors including its date and the choice of inaugurator.
The Congress on Monday accused the government of disrespecting Constitutional propriety and demanded that President Droupadi Murmu should do the inauguration instead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP hit back, saying the Congress was in the habit of indulging in "cheap politics" of running down the country's achievements for its selfish ends
Meanwhile, the date of inauguration May 28 is the birth anniversary of VD Savarkar, one of the BJP's biggest icons. Prime Minister Modi is inaugurating the new Parliament building following an invitation by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
In a series of tweets, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said that the then president Ram Nath Kovind was not invited to the new Parliament's foundation laying ceremony in December 2020 and claimed that President Murmu is not being invited for the inauguration of the new Parliament building.
"The Modi Government has repeatedly disrespected propriety. The Office of the President of India is reduced to tokenism under the BJP-RSS Government," the Congress president alleged.
"She is the First Citizen of India. Inauguration of the new Parliament building by her will symbolise the government's commitment to democratic values and Constitutional propriety," Kharge tweeted.
Earlier, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and several opposition leaders had said that the president should inaugurate the new Parliament House and not the prime minister.
Sources claimed that Murmu was approached for inaugurating the building but she wanted the prime minister to do it.
"Whenever a good thing happens, Congress leaders resort to cheap politics which has become its hallmark under Rahul Gandhi. When the nation is feeling proud on the construction of the new Parliament building, its leaders have again stooped to a new low," BJP chief spokesperson Anil Baluni said.
Citing records, BJP sources said the Parliament House Annexe was inaugurated by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 24, 1975. Congress' senior spokesperson Anand Sharma told a press conference that the government and the prime minister should urge the President to inaugurate the building and she should be accorded the honour as head of the institution of Parliament.
"We feel that the Constitution is not being respected... It does not give a good message that earlier a Dalit President was not invited and now a tribal woman is being kept away from this decision," Sharma said.
Articles 60 and 111 of the Constitution of India make it clear that the President is the head of parliament, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said.
"It was bizarre enough that the PM performed the ground-breaking ceremony and puja when construction began, but totally incomprehensible (and arguably unconstitutional) for him and not the President to inaugurate the building," he tweeted.
Union Minister Hardeep Puri reacted sharply to Tharoor's remarks. "Congress has a habit of raking controversies where none exist. While President is the Head of State, PM is the Head of Govt and leads the Parliament on behalf of the Govt, whose Policies are effected in form of Laws. The President is not a Member of either House, whereas PM is," he tweeted.
The Congress and other parties have been critical of the project to build the new Parliament building undertaken by the Modi government. Sharma said the British Parliament has been there at the same place since 1215 and was rebuilt at the same place after it was destroyed in a fire.
In America after the civil war, the US Congress is on Capitol Hill since 1792. The France Parliament has been there since 1928, he said.
Asked whether the Congress would boycott the new Parliament building inauguration, he said, "The question is of the basic demand and what the Constitution says. We want to hear from the government on whether they respect the Constitution. Parliament does not belong to the government, it belongs to India."
(With PTI inputs.)