Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal said it will participate in the inauguration of the new parliament by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday — one of the key non-NDA parties to send a positive RSVP. The Opposition has boycotted the programme en masse, accusing the government of insulting President Droupadi Murmu.
Junking the Opposition’s boycott plan, the BJD said the President and parliament have “sanctity” and issues can be debated later.
“The President of India is the Head of the Indian State. The Parliament represents the 1.4 billion people of India. Both the institutions are symbols of Indian democracy and draw their authority from the Constitution of India,” read a statement from the party issued this evening.
“BJD believes that these Constitutional institutions should be above any issue which may affect their sanctity and honour. Such issues can always be debated later in the august house. Hence the BJD shall be a part of this momentous occasion,” the statement added.
Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSR Congress has also confirmed that it will attend the event.
The Centre recently had approved the biggest-ever tranche of funds to Andhra Pradesh, since the state’s bifurcation in June 2014.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has also largely remained in subtle support of the Centre’s policies, joining the opposition only in select cases.
Several other parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have confirmed their attendance. The Shiv Sena (Shinde faction), Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the BJP’s Tamil Nadu ally AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) are also expected to be present at the function.
Earlier today, 20 Opposition parties announced that they will boycott Sunday’s ceremony, calling the plans to have the Prime Minister inaugurate the new parliament building a “direct assault on democracy”.
“This undignified act insults the high office of the President and violates the letter and spirit of the constitution. It undermines the spirit of inclusion which saw the nation celebrate its first woman Adivasi President,” the Opposition parties said in a statement.
Mr Patnaik, the five-time Chief Minister of Odisha, has always kept his party equidistant from the Congress and the BJP. But he has often offered issue-based support to the BJP in the past.
Ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections, the BJD chief made it clear that his party will not be part of any opposition front. The announcement came after his meeting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and on a day he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi. He, however, called it a “courtesy meeting” and indicated that his non-aligned status will not change anytime soon.
Mr Patnaik, 76, a Chief Minister since March 2000, was approached by Mr Kumar, who has volunteered to bring the opposition under one umbrella, and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, for an alliance to take on the NDA government.
The BJP has brushed off the Opposition boycott, which would practically make Sunday’s ceremony a show by the ruling party. “We have invited everyone. They can decide according to their wisdom,” Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said, without commenting on the opposition’s decision.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi has urged the opposition parties to reconsider their decision.
“I would like to tell them that this is a historical event. This is not the time for politics…Boycotting and making issues out of a new issue is most unfortunate. I appeal to them to reconsider their decision and join this historical function,” he said earlier today.