A collective decision of the majority of the Opposition parties in India, led by the Indian National Congress, and among them, the TMC, DMK, AAP, Shiv Sena (UBT), SP, CPI, CPM, JMM, RLD, JDU, NCP, RJD, IUML and the MDMK, to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament on the premise that “...when the soul of democracy has been sucked out from the Parliament, we find no value in a new building...” is a bad decision.
Besides the formally united joint Opposition on the issue, some other parties might also reportedly boycott the event, separately, among them the BRS and the MIM.
Politicians may celebrate a moment of national pride when democracy is perfectly working, or at least working reasonably well for them, but ordinary people cherish and celebrate it most of the time, despite the odds and failures of the system to better their lives.
Those who constitute the first phrase of the Indian Constitution, the fountainhead of all power in a democracy, “We, the People...”, despite all the failures, real or imagined, of the Opposition, will still celebrate a new building being created as a new Parliament for a New India.
The joint Opposition is essentially staying away from the people, distancing themselves from the real masters in a democracy, for a sulk that is essentially political and of little to no relevance to the common folk.
The specific objection of the Opposition is aimed at a rather theoretical question – who should inaugurate the building – the President or the Prime Minister. Both the answers are actually correct. The Opposition is correct when it argues that “...Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building himself, completely sidelining President Droupadi Murmu is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy, which demands a commensurate response.”
But the Prime Minister is actually the leader of the country, its democracy, and therefore, of the Parliament. It would be foolhardy to even respond pointing to the large number of instances when the Prime Minister of the day took decisions to inaugurate new facilities that matter. The PM, as the leader of the country, and the one elected by the people more substantially than anyone else at the national level, is equally entitled to choose to inaugurate the new Parliament.
The Parliament might not be complete without the Opposition but neither Mr Modi nor the people of India will miss them at the exact moment of the formal dedication of democracy’s symbol to the people. People will not notice, not beyond a point, when they celebrate something all of India, and all Indians, should take pride in – that we have grown as a democracy and an independent nation, against several and severe odds, and here in our 75th year of Independence, are dedicating a great new monument to ourselves.
It is ironic, historically speaking, because Mahatma Gandhi was absent in the Parliament on the midnight hour of freedom on August 15, 1947. But Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru rose to the occasion, and perhaps, Independent India moved on and celebrated it.
Narendra Modi, the most popular leader in India today, and in decades, will also rise to the occasion, and a silent, sulking Opposition, would be regretting its wrong decision.