New Delhi: With just four days left for the inauguration of the new Parliament building in the national capital, 19 Opposition parties announced in a joint statement they will skip the event.
"We announce our collective decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building. When the soul of democracy has been sucked out from the Parliament, we find no value in a new building," the statement said.
The TMC, CPI and AAP had on Tuesday announced they will skip the ceremony on May 28.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament building on May 28 following an invitation from the Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla.
Announcing the party's decision, TMC's leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O'Brien on Tuesday tweeted, "Parliament is not just a new building; it is an establishment with old traditions, values, precedents and rules -- it is the foundation of Indian democracy. Prime Minister Modi doesn't get that. For him, Sunday's inauguration of the new building is all about I, ME, MYSELF. So count us out."
CPI general secretary D Raja said his party will not attend the ceremony.
The CPM, meanwhile, accused Modi of 'bypassing' the President for not just laying the foundation stone for the new Parliament building but also by inaugurating it himself.
"Modi bypassed the President when the foundation stone for the new Parliament building was laid. Now too at the inauguration. Unacceptable. Constitution Art 79: 'There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses..."
"Only when the President of India summons the Parliament can it meet. The President begins, annually, Parliamentary functioning by addressing the joint session. The first business Parliament transacts each year is the 'Motion of Thanks' to President's Address," party general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in a tweet.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh tweeted: "Not inviting President Droupadi Murmu to the inauguration of the new Parliament building is a great insult to her. This is also an insult to the tribals. The Aam Aadmi party will boycott the inauguration function in protest of Modi ji not inviting the President."
Meanwhile, political slugfest over the inauguration issue continued with Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri slamming the Congress for lacking "national spirit and sense of pride" in India's progress and the opposition party accusing him of trying to "obfuscate and dissimulate".
Addressing reporters, Puri said the then prime minister Indira Gandhi had inaugurated the Parliament Annexe building on October 24, 1975 and successor Rajiv Gandhi had laid the foundation of the parliament library on August 15, 1987. Puri's remarks came a day after the Congress accused the government of disrespecting constitutional propriety and demanded that President Droupadi Murmu inaugurate the new Parliament building, instead of Modi.
AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "SUV-Self-Usurped Vishwaguru-has already annexe-d the Parliament for self-aggrandisement. But surely, there is a fundamental difference between inaugurating an Annexe where officials work and a library which is hardly used on the one hand, and inaugurating not just the Temple of Democracy but its sanctum sanctorum itself."
Hitting back at Puri, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari alleged that the minister is trying to "obfuscate and dissimulate".
On Monday, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had raised objection to President Murmu not being invited for the inauguration of the new Parliament Building, saying the Parliament is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India, and the President of India is its highest Constitutional authority.
The opposition parties had boycotted the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the building by Modi in December 2020, citing concerns about its timing amid farmer protests, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic distress due to a lockdown.
The grand opening of the new building, it is learnt, will be marked by the chanting of hymns, a "havan" and a "puja". The rituals will start in the morning and the main programme is scheduled to be held in the afternoon.
Besides Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla will be present at the opening ceremony.
The invitation card for the event states the ceremony will start at noon and requests the invitees to take their seats by 11.30 am.
(With PTI inputs.)