Legal Legislature Nation

‘PM inaugurating new Parliament building rather than president is an “insult” to democracy’

New Delhi: The All India Adivasi Congress on Thursday accused the Modi government of “insulting” tribals by not getting the country’s first tribal president Droupadi Murmu to inaugurate the new Parliament building, as it announced a nationwide protest against the move on May 26.

Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, All India Adivasi Congress chief Shivajirao Moghe said Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the new Parliament building rather than the president is an “insult” to democracy.

Sharing Moghe’s remarks on Twitter, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “Then President Ramnath Kovind was not invited to the foundation laying ceremony for the new Parliament in December 2020, and now the current President Droupadi Murmu is not allowed to inaugurate the new Parliament.” The Adivasi Congress underlined in its statement that under Prime Minister Modi the Constitutional rights of Adivasis and Dalits are not secure even after one of them being in the highest Constitutional position, he said.

It also highlighted how the Modi government has systematically undercut forest and environmental laws to the detriment of tribal communities, Ramesh said.

In his remarks, Moghe said, “For the first time a tribal is the president, we have a woman president. This (inauguration by the PM) is an insult to tribals and women. The President is an important part of Parliament as it is the president that addresses the joint session of Parliament. It is the President who should inaugurate Parliament.” “I don’t know whether this is happening because we are tribals,” said the chief of All India Adivasi Congress department under the Indian National Congress.

Moghe’s attack on the government came a day after 20 opposition parties announced their boycott of the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Modi.

Nineteen Opposition parties, including the Congress, Left, TMC, SP and AAP, came together to jointly announce the boycott, saying they find no value in a new building when the “soul of democracy has been sucked out.” Separately, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said if Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla does not inaugurate the new Parliament building, his party would not attend the event.

Moghe said even when the ‘bhumi poojan’ of the new Parliament complex was done, the then President, Ram Nath Kovind, was relegated to back seat. “Both the times, Modi ji came forward to carry out inauguration.” He alleged that the move was intended by the Modi government to insult backward classes as it is “against tribals.” “Tomorrow, we will carry out a nationwide agitation at block, village, district level, against this attempt to insult tribals and women of the country … We want the president to inaugurate the new Parliament and not the prime minister. There is still time, the PM should change his mind and let the president inaugurate the new parliament building,” he said.

“We will also protest against the government policies targeting the tribals. We will peacefully protest in a democratic manner. They are using tribals for politics, we will protest against it,” Moghe said.

Earlier in the day, the Congress attacked Modi saying “one man’s ego and desire for self-promotion” has denied the first tribal woman president her constitutional privilege to inaugurate the complex.

After the Opposition’s boycott call, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance also launched a sharp counterattack, calling its stand a “blatant affront to democratic ethos and constitutional values of our great nation.” The 19 opposition parties in their joint statement said Prime Minister 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.” Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament building on May 28 following an invitation by the Lok Sabha Speaker.