Attend new Parliament building inauguration, Sitharaman asks opposition parties

May 25, 2023 03:33 PM IST

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the parties boycotting the inauguration on Sunday should reconsider their decision for people’s sake

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday appealed to opposition parties boycotting the new Parliament building’s inauguration on Sunday to reconsider their decision for the sake of the people.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (Twitter)
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (Twitter)

“Whether you like the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] or do not like to see him... Whatever it is, you have to respect the temple of democracy. is not good to boycott the temple of democracy where we debate people’s issues. ...At least for the people, participate in the function,” Sitharaman told reporters in Chennai in the presence of Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi, his Telangana and Nagaland counterparts, Tamilsai Soundararajan and La Ganesan, Union minister L Murugan, and state minister PK Sekar Babu.

Sitharaman said 20 aadeenams or heads of monasteries from Tamil Nadu have been invited for the inauguration, where Sengol (sceptre), the symbol of governance in Tamil kingdoms, will be installed near the Speaker’s seat.

Lord Mountbatten handed over the five-feet long sceptre made of silver and gold to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on August 14, 1947, as a symbol of the transfer of power. Sitharaman said Tamil Nadu has a “big proud part” in the episode symbolising the transfer.

The Tiruvavduthurai adheenam advised the handing over of Sengol following Nehru’s consultations with India’s last Governor-General C Rajagopalachari, who was popularly known as Rajaji.

Rajagopalachari’s great-grandson, C R Kesavan, said Mountbatten suggested shaking hands or exchanging a piece of paper. He added Rajaji suggested to Nehru the concept of a Sengol.

Twenty-one parties, including Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, announced on Wednesday the boycott of the new Parliament building’s inauguration over Modi’s decision to preside over the ceremony for it instead of President Droupadi Murmu.

In a joint statement, 19 of the parties boycotting the inauguration said Modi’s decision was an “assault on democracy”. Later, two more parties, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, also said they would avoid the event.

Sitharaman said that she was surprised by the allegation that the Union government disrespected the president. Sitharaman said that the president is given her due respect. “Parties which today see the president as a very eminent leader, particularly coming from a tribal background, are the ones which undertook a bitter campaign. I do not wish to recall the kind of words they used at that time,” said Sitharaman. “Leaders belonging to these opposition parties spoke ill of her, abused her, and said that she is going to be a rubber stamp...”

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    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is presently Assistant Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime time news bulletins. Later, she covered politics, development, mental health, child and disability rights for The Times of India. Divya has been a journalism fellow for several programs including the Asia Journalism Fellowship at Singapore and the KAS Media Asia- The Caravan for narrative journalism. Divya has a master's in politics and international studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As an independent journalist Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on domestic and international affairs.

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