Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the new Parliament building in Delhi in a grand ceremony that was boycotted by Opposition parties.

At a function, Modi called the new building a “cradle of empowerment” and said it will contribute to the world’s progress.

“This new complex will be evidence of self-reliant India,” he added. “More than just a building, the new Parliament encompasses the aspirations and dreams of 1.4 billion people. It sends a powerful message to the world about India’s unwavering determination.”

More than 20 Opposition parties boycotted the ceremony, saying that Modi’s decision to inaugurate the building instead of President Draupadi Murmu was “not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy”.

Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule told ANI that the decision to inaugurate the new Parliament without the Opposition shows that there is no democracy in the country. “It is an incomplete event,” she added.

The Opposition leaders accused him of sidelining India’s first Adivasi president from this significant national event.

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But the Bharatiya Janata Party government has rejected the comments, saying that no protocol had been violated and the prime minister respects the constitutional head of state.

On Sunday morning, a ceremony was held for the inauguration of the new Parliament and Hindu priests chanted religious hymns. Modi released a special commemorative postage stamp and a Rs 75 coin to mark the inauguration of the building.

Modi also installed a sengol in a special enclosure on the right side of the Speaker’s chair in the Lok Sabha chamber. A historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, the government has claimed that the sengol had been presented to the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru by British Viceroy Louis Mountbatten and symbolised the transfer of power from the British government to India.

However, one of the documents in a docket shared with journalists to support the claim was a blog post was based on social media forwards. The blog post, titled “WhatsApp History”, was written by Tamil writer Jeyamohan.

The new Parliament building can accommodate 888 members in the Lok Sabha chamber and 300 in the Rajya Sabha chamber. For a joint sitting of both the Houses, 1,280 MPs can sit in the Lok Sabha chamber.

Constructed by Tata Projects Limited, the new building has a constitution hall, a lounge for MPs, a library, multiple committee rooms, among other things.

The earlier Parliament House was completed in 1927 and is now 96 years old.

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