New Parliament building inauguration | Rethink boycott decision, Nirmala Sitharaman tells Opposition

Minister says parties which are speaking of President’s eminence ran a bitter campaign against her; she terms Parliament the ‘temple of democracy’, says Centre has given due respect to Murmu

Updated - May 26, 2023 01:52 am IST

Published - May 25, 2023 03:56 pm IST - CHENNAI

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman briefing about the installation of Sengol - Sceptre in the New Parliament House, at Raj Bhavan in Chennai, along with Governor R.N. Ravi and Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan on May 25, 2023

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman briefing about the installation of Sengol - Sceptre in the New Parliament House, at Raj Bhavan in Chennai, along with Governor R.N. Ravi and Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan on May 25, 2023 | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the media at the Raj Bhavan in Chennai, on Thursday, May 25, 2023 that the Opposition parties, now speaking of President Droupadi Murmu as an eminent leader from a tribal community, had ran a bitter campaign against her before she got elected as the President.

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Responding to the criticism from a section of the Opposition parties that the Union government had “disrespected” the President by not having her inaugurate the new Parliament building, she said these parties did not just run an election campaign against her, but spoke ill of her, “abused her,” and said she was going to be a “rubber stamp”. “I do not wish to recall the kind of words they used at that time,” she said.

These parties said Ms. Murmu represented “evil forces” and not anything the country needed, she added. “Obviously [by evil forces] they had the RSS in mind,” she inferred. Ms. Sitharaman said she could give the entire list of parties and the words they used. “Not one in that group said anything to honour her at that time. Today, suddenly they feel that we have to recognise...” she said.

According to her, the present government at the Centre duly respected the President. “Our honourable Prime Minister himself gives her due respect. All of us are extremely proud of our Rahstrapati ji,” she added.

Alleging that it was former Congress president Sonia Gandhi who inaugurated the Assembly building in Chhattisgarh, Ms. Sitharaman asked under what capacity did she do that. She asked should the inauguration not been done by the Governor, going by the logic articulated by the Opposition parties now.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, who was present during the interaction with the media, highlighted how she was not even invited to attend, let alone invited to inaugurate, the new Assembly building in Telangana. She said there was a contradiction in how the Opposition parties now saw the President as a non-partisan figure, but refused to see the Governors as being non-partisan.

On the decision by 19 Opposition parties to boycott the inauguration of the Parliament, Ms. Sitharaman said the Parliament is where elected representative of every party is going to discuss the issues that mattered to the people. She said the Parliament is the “temple of democracy” and recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his respect by “bowing his head with his forehead touching the stairs of the Parliament” when he entered the building after getting elected in 2014.

It was her humble opinion that it was not right for the Opposition parties to boycott the inauguration, considering the importance of the Parliament. She appealed to the Opposition parties to reconsider their decision to boycott.

Besides Ms. Sitharaman and Ms. Soundararajan, Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi, Nagaland Governor La. Ganesan, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting L. Murugan and Tamil Nadu Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments P.K. Sekarbabu were present at the press conference organised to explain the significance of the sceptre, presented by the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam to Jawaharlal Nehru on the eve of Independence, to be installed in the new Lok Sabha. Ms. Sitharaman said it is a matter of pride for Tamil Nadu.

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