President, not PM, should inaugurate new Parliament building: Rahul Gandhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the newly constructed Parliament building in New Delhi on May 28 on the invitation of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, the Lok Sabha Secretariat had said

Updated - May 21, 2023 09:03 pm IST

Published - May 21, 2023 01:29 pm IST - New Delhi

An aerial view of the New Parliament House, in New Delhi.

An aerial view of the New Parliament House, in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: ANI

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on May 21 said that the President should inaugurate the new Parliament building and not the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the newly-constructed Parliament building on May 28.

Also Read | New Parliament opening | Not inviting President is an insult, says Opposition 

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla met Mr. Modi on Thursday last and extended an invitation to inaugurate the new building, the Lok Sabha Secretariat had said.

Taking to Twitter, Mr. Gandhi said, "The President should inaugurate the new Parliament House and not the Prime Minister.''

Veteran parliamentarian and former Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma and some other Opposition leaders were also of the same view.

"It will not be Constitutionally correct for the PM to inaugurate the new building of Parliament. Jury is out whether it was required at all. No major democracy has done this. Westminster is the seat of the British Parliament and Capitol Hill of the U.S. Congress for hundreds of years," Mr. Sharma said on Twitter.

He said the Parliament was the custodian and pride of India's constitutional democracy and its glory must not be undermined as the sovereignty of the people was vested in it.

Constitutionally incorrect

Article 79 of the Constitution is unambiguous that the President is the Head of the Parliament which comprises the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, he contended.

"The PM is the leader of the Lok Sabha. It is the President who alone can summon the Parliament — Article 85," he said.

"Rashtrapati addresses the joint session only flanked by Rajya Sabha Chairman-Vice- President and Lok Sabha Speaker. PM and leader of Rajya Sabha are seated in Central Hall. The Constitution must be respected in letter and spirit and the President should inaugurate," Mr. Sharma said in a series of tweets.

CPI general secretary D. Raja also said the Prime Minister led the executive organ of the state and Parliament was the legislative organ. "It would have been appropriate for Ms. Droupadi Murmu as Head of the State to inaugurate the new Parliament," he said.

"Obsession with self-image and cameras trumps decency and norms when it comes to Modi Ji," Mr. Raja alleged on Twitter.

RJD leader Manoj Kumar Jha had earlier said, "Shouldn't the honorable President of India be inaugurating the new 'Sansad Bhavan'? I leave it at that...Jai Hind." AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi too, had raised objections to the Prime Minister inaugurating the new Parliament building.

"Why should the PM inaugurate Parliament? He is head of the executive, not legislature. We have a separation of powers and Hon'ble Lok Sabha Speaker and RS Chair could have inaugurated. It's made with public money, why is the PM behaving like his 'friends' have sponsored it from their private funds," Mr. Owaisi said on Twitter.

“Complete insult”

The inauguration of the new Parliament building on May 28 coincides with the birth anniversary of Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar and several Opposition parties have targeted the government over it.

The Congress has called it a "complete insult" to the country's founding fathers.

The new Parliament building can comfortably seat 888 members in the Lok Sabha chamber and 300 in the Rajya Sabha chamber, according to the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

In case of a joint sitting of both the Houses, a total of 1,280 members can be accommodated in the Lok Sabha chamber.

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the new Parliament building on December 10, 2020. The present Parliament building was completed in 1927.

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