Most opposition parties stayed away from Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony where 19 ministers were inducted into the Narendra Modi government. There was no representation from the Congress, the Left parties, the Trinamool Congress, the RJD and the JD(U) at the ceremony at Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The obvious bitterness between the government and the Opposition could be an ominous sign ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament that starts on July 18. The government has laid out an ambitious agenda for the session, including the Constitution (Amendment) bill, to roll out the Goods and Services Tax and Labour Code on Wages, among others.
Top opposition leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, had stayed away from the first Cabinet reshuffle in November 2014 as well.
Opposition leaders had then dismissed suggestions that there was any planned boycott of the swearing-in ceremony, proffering various excuses for their absence. The ensuing winter session was marked by frequent disruptions and allegations and counter-allegations over growing “intolerance” in the country and cases against opposition leaders.
On Tuesday, the Congress sought to underplay the absence of its leaders from the oath-taking ceremony. Party’s chief spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala, said: “They (Sonia and Rahul) had attended the ceremony when Prime Minister took oath. But, they don’t have to go each time a cosmetic expansion takes place for political expediency.”