The Congress is spearheading an Opposition boycott of the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28, saying not letting President Droupadi Murmu do the inauguration and not inviting her to the ceremony is an “insult" to the country’s highest constitutional post.
The grand old party’s position is in contrast to some of its actions, one of which dates back to 1927. Back then, Pandit Motilal Nehru had attended the inauguration of the Parliament building along with other Congress leaders. The building was inaugurated by Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy. Neither did Congress leaders boycott the colonial spectacle nor did they ask for the British King, the real constitutional head of the parliamentary system, to do the inauguration instead of the Viceroy.
The May 28 inauguration would be the second such significant event in Parliament to be missed by the Congress after it skipped the historic joint midnight session on rollout of the Goods and Services Tax on July 1, 2017. The latest boycott call has led to criticism that the party is prioritising political opposition to PM Narendra Modi over respect for Parliament.
Questions have also been raised as to why Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for the new Chhattisgarh Assembly in 2020 since, as per the party’s latest stand, it should have been done by the Governor.
As many as 19 parties, including the Congress, Left, TMC, SP and AAP, have announced their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building, saying they find no value in a new building when the “soul of democracy has been sucked out".
PM Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament building on May 28 following an invitation by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
The ceremonial sceptre ‘Sengol‘ that was given to first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to symbolise the transfer of power in August 1947 was kept in the Nehru Gallery of the Allahabad Museum and has been moved to Delhi for its installation in the new building of Parliament.
Made of silver with a coat of gold, the historical sceptre will be installed near the chair of the Lok Sabha Speaker. Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Sengol symbolises the transfer of power from British to India, just as it was originally used to mark the handing over power from one king to another during the Chola dynasty in Tamil Nadu.
“Our government is of the opinion that keeping this sacred ‘Sengol’ in a museum is inappropriate. For installation of the ‘Sengol’, no other place can be more suitable, sacred and appropriate than the building of Parliament," he told reporters.
On Thursday, BJP leader Amit Malviya said “instead of being given the pride of its place, it (Sengol) was tucked away in Anand Bhavan, and called the golden stick ‘gifted’ to Nehru.” He also shared a photo of the Sengol in the museum with the label identifying it as “golden walking stick gifted to Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
The vesting of the sacred Sengol with Jawaharlal Nehru, on the eve of India’s Independence, was the exact moment of transfer of power from the British to India.But instead of being given the pride of its place, it was tucked away in Anand Bhavan, and called the golden stick… pic.twitter.com/TSLqPYn5Ft
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) May 25, 2023
On May 28, PM Modi will accept the Sengol from an Adheenum from Tamil Nadu. The Adheenams – a non-brahmin Saivite order – date back over five hundred years. The transfer of power during Chola times was sanctified by Saivite high priests.
C Rajagopalachari had then requested the leader of the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam in Tamil Nadu (then Madras Presidency) to do the same, for power to pass on to Indian hands from the British.