Opposition boycotts Constitution Day celebrations over Maharashtra slugfest
Seventeen opposition parties staged their biggest show of unity since the Lok Sabha elections at the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar at the Parliament complex to protest against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the political developments in Maharashtra, while also boycotting Constitution Day celebrations at the joint sitting of two Houses in the nearby Central Hall on Tuesday.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi led the protest that also involved leaders from different political parties reading out from the Constitution of India. Some leader carried placards that read “Stop Murder of Democracy”, “Save Our Constitution” and “Constitution in Crisis”.
Gandhi, surrounded by opposition leaders read out the Preamble of the Constitution, followed by leaders such as Kanimozhi (DMK), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) and others, who read out different parts of the Constitution. Parties such as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and Communist Party of India (Marxist), among others, took part in the protests.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi tweeted in the morning that those in power today disregards the values of the Constitution by weakening the people’s strength as money power is being expanded. “To face this money and muscle power, it is important not only to bow our heads before our Constitution, but also pledge to stand by every value the Constitution enshrines,” she tweeted.
Later, party leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted that “It is ironic that on the day India was celebrating its Constitution, the BJP government was busy working to destroy it. The Constitution belongs to every Indian. Let us pledge to uphold its values & defend it at all costs.”
The Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back at the Congress for boycotting the Constitution Day celebrations in Parliament.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “November 26 is Constitution Day and this day is above political differences. Congress’ absence from Central Hall is an insult to Dr Ambedkar, the father of the Constitution, but this is nothing new. Earlier also the party did the same thing by not giving him Bharat Ratna.”
But Congress’s Anand Sharma took jibes at the ruling BJP-led government. “Modi government has started the Constitution Day. But what kind of democracy is this in which only President, Prime Minister, Vice President, and Speaker of Lok Sabha have a voice while the Opposition has no role? This is not what the Indian Constitution says. It does not say that only government programs should be conducted,” he told reporters.
Asked about Prime Minister Modi hailing the Constitution, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said, “Well I think the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The way the central government has behaved in Maharashtra, it is not certain that constitutional norms are safe in the hands of present establishment.”
In his address to a joint sitting of Parliament to mark the Constitution Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Indian Constitution is a sacred text “for us”.