The Parliament, President, and Prime Minister

Notwithstanding the criticism by the opposition, the new Parliament deserves to be graced by both the President and Prime Minister

Notwithstanding the criticism by the opposition, the new Parliament deserves to be graced by both the President and Prime Minister
Notwithstanding the criticism by the opposition, the new Parliament deserves to be graced by both the President and Prime Minister

Politics escalates over the inauguration of the new Parliament Building

The inaugural day of India’s new Parliament Building, May 28, what was expected to be a huge day of celebration has regrettably become the day of political controversies. Why? Because India’s opposition political party leaders, especially Congress, have nothing better to do. They are asking why the Prime Minister and not the President is inaugurating the newly commissioned Parliament? As a common individual, I also wondered if it is a frivolous argument and concluded that it merits discussion.

Perhaps, the more straightforward solution and far-reaching decision for the Speaker of the House, Om Birla, should have been to invite both, the President and Prime Minister, for the ceremonial task. It is my informed view that President Murmu is the Constitutional Head of the Legislature while Prime Minister Modi is the elected Head of the Government. Thus, the two highest offices have particularly important and intricate relationships and responsibilities for preserving, protecting, and promoting the people’s interests of the Republic of India.

Furthermore, Article 79 of the Constitution states, “There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses to be known respectively as the Council of States and the House of the People.” I interpret this Article putting the President before the two Houses. India’s current President, Droupadi Murmu, the ‘First Person’ (not to confuse with the First Lady- wife of the U.S. President) decidedly deserves the honor to cut the ribbon of the new Parliament.

However, we cannot undermine the noteworthy credit due to Modi for his dream and determination to revamp the Central Vista Redevelopment Project (CSVP). Transforming the CSVP is not only the new buildings with brick and mortar but moving India out of the shadow of the reminiscences of British colonial rule.

The readers may recall that, on September 9, 2022, Modi renamed the Rajpath (literal translation of Kingsway during British rule) to Kartavya Path. At the same time, he unveiled the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose statue at the canopy at India Gate. It was unfortunate that Bose did not get due recognition for nearly 75 years for his single-handed leadership and fight for India’s freedom.

The fact also remains that the Prime Minister deserves credit and accolades to get the vast CSVP off the ground with its ceremonial laying of the foundation stone of the Parliament Building on December 10, 2020. Modi spent hundreds of hours in the finer details of the CSVP to make it India’s pride. He overcame the legal battles created by the opposition political parties directly or indirectly.

To my amazement, I recall Modi visiting the Vista grounds at late night after his return from an overseas trip. How many people would do it at night putting people’s convenience and traffic congestions before their own? Only Modi can do it and thus the inaugural event without him will be a travesty irrespective of all the political debates. Let us not forget that if it was not for Modi’s persistence, perseverance, and patience, there will be no new Parliament Building.

After all, the state-of-the-art new Parliament is the People’s House for creating laws of the land and maintaining the longstanding democracy of India. As the world’s largest democracy, India has withstood the test of time since its independence in 1947. Let us offer due credit to all those who came before us in contributing to India’s freedom struggle and preserving democracy. However, today’s India holding her head high and talking as equals among world leaders is unprecedented. The credit for it squarely goes to only Modi with his leadership consisting of a unique blend of personal, political, diplomatic, and people’s skills.

Modi’s influence as a global leader and India’s recognition for the achievements and accomplishments cannot be underestimated by any measure. Can anyone recall the number of ‘High Honors’ conferred on India’s former Prime Ministers in foreign countries? Modi just received three such Honors during his visit to Papua New Guinea. There he led a meeting of the Head of States of 14 Pacific Island Nations about strengthening bilateral relations. Who else among the global Heads of State but Modi had their feet touched by another Head of State? Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea showed an incredible gesture by touching Modi’s feet which is equally utmost respect for India’s ancient culture and traditions.

In recent times, Modi is the most popular rockstar leader not only in India but globally. Take the example of Modi’s visit to Sydney where the Indian diaspora of nearly 20000 flocked to welcome him. It was impressive to hear twenty thousand loud voices celebrating Incredible India’s Firsts, Seconds, and Thirds on the world stage in Sydney.

The Honorable President of India equally deserves to be an integral part of the inaugural event on September 28 not only as Constitutional Head but to represent India’s respect and resolve to strongly signify the gender balance. Including both, President Murmu, an Adivasi, and Prime Minister Modi, an OBC, will further celebrate India’s diversity and inclusiveness.

I do not know what the proper protocols are but we still have a few days before the event. I strongly urge Speaker Birla to personally meet, invite, and request President Murmu to grace the occasion. He must use his utmost wisdom and the power of persuasion to have both M’s (Murmu and Modi) for this ‘Magnificent and Historical’ event. The Speaker must not get entangled in the political fallout by the opposition parties (which is guaranteed to happen) of his last-minute efforts to invite President Murmu. Also, President Murmu must show her magnanimity, farsightedness, and grace, and rise above the expected criticism of being an afterthought.

For both, the Speaker and President, the nation and the people of the Republic of India must matter more than their pride and protocols. Notwithstanding the criticism by the opposition, the new Parliament, the Temple of Democracy for 1.4 billion people of India, deserves to be graced by both the President and Prime Minister.

1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

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Vijendra Agarwal, born in village Kota (Saharanpur, U.P), left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee. He is currently a member of project GNARUS, a syndicated service and writers collective. He and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward better education and health of children, especially empowerment of girls. Vidya Gyan is a calling to give back to rural communities and keeping connected to his roots which gave him so much more. His passion for writing includes the interface of policy, politics, and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement.

Formerly, a researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he has widely travelled and came to the US in 1978. He was a faculty and academic administrator in several different universities in PA, TX, NJ, MN, WI, and NY, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during the Clinton administration.
Vijendra Agarwal


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