NEW DELHI: Around 270 prominent citizens including retired bureaucrats, ex-military officers and academics on Friday issued an open letter that sharply criticised opposition parties for boycotting the inauguration of the new Parliament building on May 28.
“Those that are boycotting the inauguration of the Parliament by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just don’t get how they are the ones that are “sucking the soul of democracy”. They are following their own formulaic undemocratic, routine and baseless boycotts,” the letter said, adding that the number of non-partisan events that had been boycotted by the opposition parties were “mind-boggling”.
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Among those who signed the statement were former NIA director Yogesh Chander Modi, former DGPs SP Vaid, BL Vohra and Vikram Singh, former ambassadors Bhaswati Mukherjee, Niranjan Desai, Virender Gupta and JS Sapra and retired IAS officers Gopal Krishna, Deepak Singhal and CS Khairwal.
It listed four events that were boycotted by the Congress and the opposition in the past and described the inauguration of the new Parliament building a proud moment for the entire country.
“And, it is a matter of extreme despondency in the context of Indian democracy that the Congress Party, which calls itself the oldest political party, has decided to needlessly cry foul. The nature of the present Congress Party has always been undemocratic and their hubris has always come in the way of the nation’s progress.”
“But what the Congress party also does not get, along with its allies, is that the Indian people get it. If only the Congress and its allies would ponder deeper, would they get that it is not the soul of democracy that has been lost but that the opposition’s popularity which has been lost,” the statement said.
“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”, is what constitutes “a grave insult…direct assault on our democracy,” it added
Over 20 political parties including the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Trinamool Congress and others have distanced themselves from the inauguration of the new building. A statement issued by 19 parties on Wednesday described PM Modi’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament instead of President Droupadi Murmu as an “assault on democracy”.
To be sure, some political parties that are not part of the NDA such as the Biju Janata Dal, YSR Congress Party, and Akali Dal have distanced themselves from the Opposition move. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Thursday said it was wrong to boycott the inauguration and that the government which built the complex had the right to unveil it.