18 opposition parties to boycott president’s address to Parliament

BJP slams opposition parties

NEW DELHI, 28 Jan: A day before the start of the budget session of Parliament, as many as 18 opposition parties, led by the Congress, the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the TMC, decided on Thursday to boycott the president’s address to the joint sitting of both houses in solidarity with the farmers protesting against the new farm laws.

While 16 opposition parties issued a joint statement announcing their decision to boycott the president’s address, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) also separately announced their decision to boycott the address.

Leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said 16 opposition parties have jointly taken the decision to boycott the president’s address and have also demanded an independent probe into the Centre’s role in the violence that shook the national capital during the farmers’ tractor parade on Republic Day.

The opposition parties have sought a repeal of the three farm laws and criticized the Centre for remaining unresponsive to the demands of the farmers protesting against these legislations.

The parties that have jointly announced that they will boycott the president’s address on Friday are the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the National Conference, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Trinamool Congress, the Shiv Sena, the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the CPI, the Indian Union Muslim League, the RSP, the People’s Democratic Party, the MDMK, the Kerala Congress (M) and the All India United Democratic Front.

“The prime minister and the BJP government remain arrogant, adamant and undemocratic in their response. Shocked by this insensitivity of the government, the opposition political parties, reaffirming the collective demand for the repeal of the anti-farmer laws and in solidarity with the Indian farmers, have decided to boycott the president’s address to both the houses of Parliament on Friday, January 29, 2021,” a joint statement issued by various parties said.

Releasing the statement, senior Congress leader Azad, along with deputy leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma and the party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha K Suresh said farmers have been collectively fighting against the three farm laws “arbitrarily imposed by the BJP government.”

“The three farm laws are an assault on the rights of the states and violate the federal spirit of the constitution. If not repealed, these laws will effectively dismantle the edifice of national food security that rests upon – minimum support price (MSP), government procurement and public distribution system (PDS),” the statement said.

President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament on Friday, heralding the start of the budget session of Parliament.

Slamming opposition parties for their decision to boycott the president’s address to Parliament, the BJP on Thursday accused them of “constitutional and moral bankruptcy.”

BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said “if these parties think that the Modi government will backtrack from its support to three farm laws due to their collective pressure, then they should know that they lack such strength and that this dispensation bows only before people.”

Addressing a press conference, Bhatia said opposition parties had been calling for a session all this while as he hit out at them for their decision to boycott the address. (PTI)