The government and opposition have been trading barbs over the inauguration of India’s new parliament building.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate it on on 28 May.
Opposition leaders have accused the government of “constitutional impropriety” by not requesting the president to open the building.
They have also criticised the government’s choice of date which is also the birth anniversary of Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar.
Opposition parties consider Savarkar as a divisive figure, while the ruling BJP hails him as a hero.
Leaders from opposition parties said the choice of the inauguration date was an “insult” to India’s founding fathers.
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh criticised the government’s decision to inaugurate the new parliament building “on the birth anniversary of the man who opposed Mahatma Gandhi vehemently all his life”.
The BJP has defended the decision, saying the new building was a matter of pride for Indians.
Work on the new parliament began in January 2021.
The four-storey building – designed by HCP Design, Planning and Management and constructed by Tata Projects – has increased seating capacity and is built at at an estimated cost of 9.7bn rupees ($117.1m, £94.2m).
The existing colonial-era parliament building will continue to be used.
As plans for the inauguration of the new building were announced last week, several opposition parties criticised the government’s exclusion of Indian President Draupadi Murmu – the head of state – from the event.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the building should be inaugurated by her.
“The parliament of India is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India, and the President of India is its highest constitutional authority. She alone represents government, opposition, and every citizen alike,” Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge wrote on Twitter. “Inauguration of the new parliament building by her will symbolise [the] government’s commitment to democratic values and constitutional propriety,” his tweet read.
Gaurav Bhatia, a spokesperson of the BJP, dismissed the criticism as “chest-beating” by the Congress party.
He also said Mr Gandhi was “a bad omen during auspicious times” who could not welcome the “historic moment”.
Reports say the Congress is now considering a boycott of the event. It was among several opposition parties that did not attend the foundation-laying ceremony for the building in 2020 as it came in during the coronavirus pandemic.
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