What was the “locus standi” of Sonia Gandhi when she along with the then PM Manhoman Singh inaugurated legislative buildings in Manipur and Tamil Nadu, the BJP asked on Wednesday while countering the Congress’ criticism over the inauguration of new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP alleged that opposition parties were making it an issue because of their “extreme hatred” for Modi.
“Congress’ hypocrisy knows no limits,” BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla charged as he reminded the opposition party that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had inaugurated the Parliament House Annexe and her successor Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation stone of the Parliament Library building in 1987.
Many opposition parties, including the Congress, have announced a boycott of the ceremony on May 28, demanding that President Droupadi Murmu and not PM Modi do the inauguration.
Accusing the government of “completely sidelining” President Murmu, 19 opposition parties have, in a statement, said they find no value in a new building when the “soul of democracy has been sucked out”.
Mr Poonawalla alleged that the Congress had no problem when the then prime minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the Assembly building and complex in Manipur in 2011.
“PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi inaugurating the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly building complex is ok,” he said on Twitter.
“What was locus (standi) of Sonia Gandhi at these inaugurations?” he asked.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had inaugurated the central hall in Bihar Legislature, Mr Poonawalla said on Twitter.
“In these five instances were the President, Governors insulted?” he said, calling the Congress “mother of hypocrisy”.
Parties like the Shiromani Akali Dal, BJD and YSRC as well as the BJP’s NDA allies have said they will participate in the event.
On the opposition parties calling the inauguration of the new Parliament building an insult to President Murmu, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia hit back and asked why they didn’t support her when she was nominated as a candidate for the presidential polls.
“When a woman from the scheduled tribe community assumed the constitutional post of the President, why didn’t Congress oust its leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for calling her Rashtrapatni,” he also asked.
Mr Bhatia alleged that standing against “every positive work and historic moment” has become “the character” of the opposition parties as “they have an extreme hatred for Prime Minister Modi” who, he said, is taking India forward.
“Their motive is to violate the sanctity of Parliament, which the people of the county will not allow. More history will be scripted in the same temple of democracy (new Parliament building) and the country will progress,” he added.
Mr Bhatia said it is unfortunate that instead of playing a positive role, the Opposition is changing the “goalpost”.
“First they said this is Modi Mahal. It was not Modi Mahal. It was a unique initiative and a need…..Prime Minister Modi is such a leader that he fulfilled what the Congress and the then Speaker Meira Kumar dreamt of (a new Parliament building),” Mr Bhatia said.
The Congress, TMC, SP and AAP are among the parties that have announced a boycott of the inauguration of the new Parliament building.
Noting that it is a momentous occasion, the 19 parties in a joint statement said, “Despite our belief that the government is threatening democracy, and our disapproval of the autocratic manner in which the new Parliament was built, we were open to sinking our differences and marking this occasion.” However, 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,” they said.
The DMK, Janata Dal (United), CPI-M, CPI, NCP, SS (UBT), RJD, IUML, JMM, NC, KC (M), RSP, VCK, MDMK and RLD are the other signatories of the joint statement.
Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said his party will also skip the ceremony.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma alleged that it was mere “drama” as these parties had never supported the project.
He also maintained that another reason for the boycott might be that the inauguration will be held on a day “associated with Veer Savarkar”.
“The boycott is obvious. They had opposed the construction of the Parliament building in the first place,” Mr Sarma told reporters in Guwahati.
The BJP leader claimed that the Opposition had never thought the construction of the new Parliament House would be completed so soon and it came to them like a “bouncer”.
“So, just to save their face, they are enacting a drama of boycott. But the point remains that they never supported the project from day one… We never expected them to be in the function,” he added.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi urged the parties to reconsider their decision to boycott the ceremony.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)