An exterior view of the old Parliament building (L) and the newly constructed Indian Parliament building in New Delhi, India, 26 May 2023. EFE/EPA/RAJAT GUPTA

Indian PM inaugurates new Parliament amid opposition boycott

New Delhi, May 28 (EFE).- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a new parliament building in New Delhi on Sunday amid a boycott by opposition parties over the sidelining of the country’s president in the ceremony.

Modi arrived in the morning at the new complex to inaugurate the so-called “temple of democracy” with a “puja” (religious ceremony), following which he placed a “Sengol” or historical golden scepter near the chair of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or Lower House.

“As the new building of India’s Parliament is inaugurated, our hearts and minds are filled with pride, hope and promise. May this iconic building be a cradle of empowerment, igniting dreams and nurturing them into reality. May it propel our great nation to new heights of progress,” Modi said at the inauguration ceremony.

The event was boycotted by some twenty opposition parties, who on Wednesday expressed their disapproval of sidelining President Droupadi Murmu.

In their opinion, as the first citizen of the country, it was the prerogative of the president to inaugurate the new parliament building.

The joint statement by 19 opposition parties, among them the grand old Indian Congress Party, said that the prime minister inaugurating the building instead of the president was an insult to the country’s highest office and violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

In India, the president serves as the head of state but not the head of government – which is fulfilled by the prime minister – thus leaving the bearer of the position with a symbolic role and largely ceremonial duties.

The earlier parliament building was built in 1927, when the country was still under the rule of the British.

The shifting to a new building is seen as a part of a project to move away from all colonial reminiscence.

The new complex has a seating capacity of 888 members in the Lok Sabha or the lower house and 300 members in the Rajya Sabha or the upper house.

This complex, which has been rebuilt with materials from all the states of the country to symbolize the national union, also has four floors that include a library, several committee rooms and a huge hall for legislators. EFE