Missed chance: About the strife surrounding the dedication of the new Parliament building
The opening of the new Parliament building on May 28 had the potential to be a moment of national togetherness, but regrettably politics are taking centre stage. The President, the head of state, and not the Prime Minister, the head of government, should have been inaugurating the building, according to opposition parties, who have declared they will boycott the ceremony. The opposition's case has some validity, but a boycott is an overreaction. It has been made exceedingly difficult for Parliament to work in a meaningful way because of the acrimony that has already developed between the administration and the opposition.The Opposition particularly emphasised that India now has its first woman Adivasi President in a joint statement, saying that "this undignified behaviour undermines the high office of the President and defies the word and spirit of the Constitution." The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has refuted the accusation by pointing out that Rajiv Gandhi lay the foundation for the Parliament Library on August 15, 1987, and that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi opened the Parliament Annexe building on October 24, 1975. But, the dedication of a library or an annexe cannot be compared to the dedication of the magnificent structure that is representative governance.
A partisan celebration being made out of a national milestone is undoubtedly terrible form, but what is more concerning is the serious harm that democracy is suffering. There is no more obvious irony. Despite the inauguration of a brand-new, glitzy physical place for discussions, exchanges between the administration and the opposition are either nonexistent or antagonistic. Democracy is about discussions and looking for common ground, not about monuments and buildings.
India, unhappily, is seeing the rise of executive power at the expense of parliamentary authority, which is an increasing worry in many democracies. The new structure is a component of the Central Vista's restoration, which houses the Indian government's headquarters. The BJP administration did little to win over the opposition. The President and the leaders of the opposition both ought to have taken part in the opening ceremony.
Parliament is not a place for executive dominance; it is intended to hold the executive accountable to the people. A regrettable trend in recent years has been the continued degradation of this essential role of Parliament. The opening of the new structure might have provided a chance to change direction.