A group of 270 eminent citizens, including former bureaucrats, ambassadors and veterans, on Friday condemned the Opposition for boycotting new Parliament building inauguration and claimed the "family-first" parties have come together to boycott all that represents India.
While it is a proud occasion for all Indians but opposition parties with their "skeletal arguments, immature, whimsy and hollow reasoning, and most of all flagrant display of non-democratic posturing, just don't get it", they said in a statement.
A democratically elected prime minister of India who has inspired a billion Indians with his authenticity, inclusive policies, strategic vision, commitment to deliver and most of all, his Indianness is "unpalatable to the Congress and other opposition parties", they added.
The signatories to the statement included 88 retired bureaucrats, 100 veterans and 82 academicians. Former NIA director Y C Modi, former IAS officers R D Kapoor, Gopal Krishna and Samirendra Chatterjee, and Lingaya University Vice Chancellor Anil Roy Dubey are among those who have issued the joint statement.
They suggested that the government stands for "India First" while alleging that opposition parties promote "family first brand of politics". How can the family-first driven parties reconcile to an India-first approach so they have come together to boycott all that represents India, the eminent citizens said.
Their statement alleged that it is the opposition parties which are "sucking the soul of democracy", a counter to the similar barb the Congress and other members of the Opposition had used against the government.
The statement noted that the number of times the Opposition has boycotted recent "non-partisan" events of Parliament is mind boggling.
In 2017, the Congress boycotted Parliament's mid-night session to launch the GST, a federal innovation and only of its kind in post-Independence India, they said, adding that these parties boycotted Lok Sabha in 2020 to support eight Rajya Sabha members suspended for "despicable unruly behaviour".
The statement cited similar other instances.
"The Opposition doesn't get that resorting to its modus operandi to hold placards and vociferous sloganeering, disrespecting the most important institutions of the country, and even using household items such as milk packets to show their protest is what is authoritarian and is what constitutes a grave insult, direct assault on our democracy," it said, using the phrases used by these parties against the government.
The Opposition boycotted President Droupadi Murmu's customary speech to the joint session of Parliament ahead of the Union Budget 2023 and one cannot forget the "heaps of insults" inflicted on her by this very Congress party whose member called her "Rashtrapatni", it said.
"The inauguration of Parliament building is a proud moment for the entire country. And, it is a matter of extreme despondency in the context of Indian democracy that the Congress, which calls itself the oldest political party, has decided to needlessly cry foul," the statement said.
In 2012, the then Speaker Meira Kumar observed that Parliament, with its cracks and absence of emergency measures, was "silently weeping", it noted, underscoring that the demand for having a new Parliament building is old.
"Now, do they (Opposition) think that the old building is bulging with efficient opulence? Maybe they do, because they just don't get it," it said.
Attacking the Congress, the statement alleged, "The nature of the present Congress has always been undemocratic and their hubris has always come in the way of the nation's progress. Of course, to expect any largesse of heart or soul or to be imbued simply by the pride of being an Indian is expecting too much of the Congress party." But what the Congress does not get along with its allies is that the Indian people understand it, the statement said.
"If only the Congress and its allies ponder deeper, they would get that it is not the soul of democracy that has been lost but that the Opposition's popularity which has been lost," it claimed.
"We resolve to stand by the country, stand by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As Indians. Just Indians," the signatories said.
As many as 19 opposition parties, including the Congress, Left, TMC, SP and AAP, on Wednesday announced their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Modi, 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.
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