Controversy Surrounding India's New Parliament: Neglected Democratic Norms, Cultural Nationalism, and Political Turmoil
The recent inauguration of the new Parliament building in India has sparked a heated debate, with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader expressing concerns over the perceived deviation from democratic norms and the emergence of cultural nationalism. The RJD's tweet comparing the design of the new building to a coffin drew criticism from various quarters, but party spokesperson Prof Subodh Kumar Mehta clarified that it was a symbolic analogy rather than a literal interpretation.
The RJD leader argues that the symbolic comparison serves to highlight the apparent disregard for democratic norms and traditions during the inauguration ceremony. Drawing a contrast between the first Parliament, which saw the participation of members of the Constituent Assembly, and the new Parliament's opening, which featured the presence of priests, the RJD expresses disappointment at the absence of the President of India from this historic occasion. According
to the RJD, the President, as the embodiment of the Parliament, should have been an integral part of the event.
While some of the RJD's allies distanced themselves from the coffin analogy, the party remains steadfast in its opposition to the new Parliament project. The RJD believes that the construction was unnecessary, especially considering the economic hardships brought about by the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, the party expresses dissatisfaction with the design and asserts that their suggestions and criticisms were ignored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The RJD's concerns extend beyond the new Parliament building and encompass the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) promotion of cultural nationalism. The party questions the notion of "Sengol" and the transfer of power, suggesting that democracy may be giving way to cultural nationalism. In the backdrop of India's 75th year of Independence, the RJD raises apprehensions about the
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BJP's departure from democratic norms and traditions and the prevalence of cultural nationalism over Bahujan nationalism.
It is important to note that the RJD's discontent with the BJP also stems from the ongoing cases and raids by central agencies targeting RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his family members. While the RJD has consistently denounced these actions as political vendetta, their protest against the inauguration of the new Parliament building is not directly linked to the misuse of central agencies by the BJP government. Rather, it is a collective effort by the opposition parties to convey their dissatisfaction and assert that their voices are not being respected or valued.
The clash between the NDA government and the opposition parties, including the RJD, raises concerns about its impact on Centre-state relationships. Already, the ties have been strained, with the central government finding ways to delay
funds to non-BJP-ruled states. The opposition Chief Ministers' reluctance to participate in NITI Aayog meetings reflects their perception of one-way communication and a sense of neglect by the BJP-led central government. These issues further deepen the prevailing sense of step-motherly treatment towards non-BJP-ruled states.
In conclusion, the inauguration of the new Parliament building in India has become a symbol of the ongoing political tug-of-war between the ruling party and the opposition. The RJD's concerns about the neglect of democratic norms, the rise of cultural nationalism, and the perceived diminishing value of the opposition's voice have fueled the controversy surrounding the event. The impact on Centre-state relationships adds another layer of complexity to this ongoing political battle. As India navigates its democratic journey, it is vital to foster healthy dialogue and uphold democratic values to ensure the inclusivity and representation of all stakeholders.