The Congress on Wednesday said that 19 like-minded parties have decided to boycott the inauguration of new Parliament House by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.
A joint statement said: "When the soul of democracy has been sucked out from the Parliament, we find no value in a new building. We announce our collective decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building.
"We will continue to fight -- in letter, in spirit, and in substance -- against this authoritarian Prime Minister and his government, and take our message directly to the people of India," the statement read.
It also said that the inauguration of a new Parliament building is a momentous occasion. "Despite our belief that the government is threatening democracy, and our disapproval of the autocratic manner in which the new Parliament was built, we were open to sinking our differences and marking this occasion," it said.
"As per the Constitution, the President of the country is the supreme leader of Parliament. Hence, President Droupadi Murmu has the right to inaugurate the new Parliament building. It is extremely objectionable that despite the presence of the President, it is the Prime Minister who will do the inauguration," the RJD leader said.
"As the move by the Central government is unconstitutional, we have decided to boycott the first session of Parliament," he added.
Also speaking to reporters, JD(U) Neeraj Kumar: "You (Modi) have a culture of insulting our elders. What is the relevance of making a new Parliament House? It is nothing but frivolous.
"During the pandemic, you gave a small amount to the Covid victims. (Bihar) Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is giving reservation of 2 per cent for the third generation of freedom fighters but you are not doing it. There is no provision to give pension to Agniveer jawans.
"However, Prime Minister Modi's decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building by himself, completely sidelining President Droupadi Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response," it added.
Referring to the Constitution's Article 79, the opposition parties said Murmu "is not only the Head of State but also an integral part of the Parliament.
"She summons, prorogues, and addresses the Parliament. She must assent for an Act of Parliament to take effect. In short, the Parliament cannot function without the President. Yet, the prime minister has decided to inaugurate the new Parliament building without her," the statement said.
The joint statement by the opposition -- also targeted the government over the disqualification of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and passage of three controversial farm bills, and said, "Undemocratic acts are not new to the Prime Minister, who has relentlessly hollowed out the Parliament. Opposition Members of Parliament have been disqualified, suspended and muted when they raised the issues of the people of India.
"MPs from the Treasury benches have disrupted Parliament. Many controversial legislations, including the three farm laws, have been passed with almost no debate, and Parliamentary Committees have been practically made defunct. The new Parliament building has been built at great expense during a once-in-a-century pandemic with no consultation with the people of India or MPs, for whom it is apparently being built," it said.
The parties that signed this statement include the DMK and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party; the latter is an ally of the Congress in Maharashtra and the former in Tamil Nadu. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has reached out to opposition leaders, including Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, in efforts to unite them before the 2024 general election, is also a signatory.
Also on the list are the CPI and CPI(M), the Shiv Sena faction led by former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray (also a Congress ally), former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party), and Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav (the Rashtriya Janata Dal).
Jharkhand's ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Indian Union Muslim League, Kerala Congress (Mani), the VCK, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the National Conference of ex-Jammu and Kashmir CMs Farooq and Omar Abdullah, the MDMK, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party will also boycott the ceremony.
The Biju Janata Dal has not signed this statement or announced a boycott so far.
A war of words has erupted between the Congress and the BJP over the inauguration of New Parliament House by PM Modi on May 28.
PM Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament building -- a triangular-shaped four-storey building with a built-up area of 64,500 square metres.
The construction started on January 15, 2021 and was to be completed by August 2022. Built in an area of 64,500 square metres, the new building will house 1,224 MPs.
It has a library, multiple committee rooms and dining rooms. Tata Projects has constructed the building at an estimated cost of Rs 970 crore.
"The traditions are being curbed, so to support the opposition's cause we have decided to boycott the inauguration," he told IANS.
The latest developments come amid a row which erupted after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi demanded that President Murmu should inaugurate the new Parliament House instead of Modi.
(With inputs from IANS)