Amid the raging row over the inauguration of the new Parliament building, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Thursday said the absence of the president in the ceremonial event would amount to "devaluing the ethos of our Republic".
Sibal's attack on the government comes a day after as many as 20 opposition parties announced their decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a tweet, Sibal said, "Inauguration of the new Parliament building. Parliament symbolises our Republic. The President is the head of the Republic. The absence of the President in this ceremonial event amounts to devaluing the ethos of our Republic. Does the government care!"
Sibal, who was a Union minister during UPA 1 and 2, had quit the Congress in May last year and was elected to the Rajya Sabha as an Independent member with the Samajwadi Party's support. Sibal recently floated a non-electoral platform 'Insaaf' aimed at fighting injustice.
Nineteen Opposition parties, including the Congress, Left, TMC, SP and AAP, came together to jointly announce the boycott, saying they find no value in a new building when the "soul of democracy has been sucked out". Separately, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said if Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla does not inaugurate the new Parliament building, his party would not attend.
After the Opposition boycott call, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had also launched a sharp counterattack, calling the opposition stand a "blatant affront to democratic ethos and constitutional values of our great nation".
The 19 Opposition parties in their joint statement said Prime Minister Modi's decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building by himself, "completely sidelining President Droupadi Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response".
Modi will inaugurate the new Parliament building on May 28 following an invitation by the Lok Sabha Speaker.