Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to inaugurate a grand new parliament building Sunday, a major part of his Hindu nationalist government’s remodeling of New Delhi, but opposition parties have said they will boycott the event.
“Our new Parliament is truly a beacon of our democracy. It reflects the nation’s rich heritage and the vibrant aspirations for the future,” Modi tweeted late Saturday, with the hashtag “MyParliamentMyPride.”
To mark the opening of the new building, he will also launch a special 75-rupee coin.
But many opposition parties have said they will boycott the inauguration, calling it a “grave insult” that Modi, and not the Indian president, ceremonial head of state Droupadi Murmu, will perform the ceremony.
Some politicians have also raised questions about the inauguration date itself, which happens to be the birth anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an important Hindu ideologue who was a mentor to Mahatma Gandhi’s killer.
The new parliament has reportedly cost $145 million to build.
The chamber of the lower house will have 888 seats — significantly more than its current maximum membership of 550, an indication that authorities plan a major expansion in their numbers.
Modi has long sought to eliminate vestiges of British rule and the grand new hexagonal legislature stands next to the colonial-era building designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker that it will replace.
The new building is part of the Central Vista Redevelopment Project — a grand project aimed at revamping or replacing British-era government centers.
It is one of several mega projects around key cultural and religious sites championed by the right-wing leader.
India’s top wrestlers will protest outside the parliament as it is inaugurated on Sunday.
Athletes including Olympians and Commonwealth Games champions have been on the streets of New Delhi since last month to demand the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh, the wrestling federation chief, over allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation.
Singh, who is from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has denied the accusations.