Leaders of the central government and the Opposition parties engaged in a war of words on Friday after President Ram Nath Kovind''s address to Parliament, which was boycotted by over 16 parties.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders termed the boycott by the Opposition as "unfortunate" while the Opposition leaders said that they boycotted the address to register their protest against farm laws, not to insult President Kovind and demanded a repeal of the laws.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that today''s Budget Session began with the President''s address, but it is "really unfortunate that the entire Opposition boycotted it."
"The President is above political differences. He is the Constitutional head. Respecting him in his address is a healthy practice of democracy. It is unfortunate that the Opposition, especially the Congress, which governed this country for 50 years, boycotted it. What tradition are they establishing?" he asked.
Before the commencement of the Budget Session, Giriraj Singh, Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Bihar''s Begusarai had said that the Opposition is lowering the dignity of democracy by not attending the President''s address.
"They are shredding the dignity of democracy. In the Parliamentary system, President has his own dignity and boycotting his address is insulting him," Singh said on being asked about Opposition parties announcing their boycott of the President''s address at Parliament.
Meanwhile, Opposition leaders said that they are determined to win and demanded a repeal of the laws.
"The Opposition parties boycotted the President''s address today. Do not they (Centre) feel ashamed of themselves? How do they sleep at night? We will not let Parliament run from Monday onwards until the farmers'' issues are resolved and they win," Ravneet Singh Bittu, Congress MP from Punjab told ANI.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress MP said that boycotting President''s address doesn''t mean insulting him.
"We are standing with farmers and demanding that farm laws be taken back. It is our biggest reason behind boycotting the address. We will debate when there is a Motion of Thanks and debate," he said.
Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) MP Hanuman Beniwal showed a placard and raised slogans, demanding the repeal of the three farm laws, during the President''s Address in Parliament today.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Sanjay Singh said, "Farm laws should be repealed. We protested against the President''s address and raised slogans in support of farmers. We were not allowed inside the Central Hall, so we raised slogans at its gate. Farmers are being called traitors. So, we boycotted the address."
A total of 16 political parties including Congress, NCP, J-K National Conference, DMK, AITC, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, RJD, CPI (M), CPI, IUML, RSP, PDP, MDMK, Kerala Congress (M) and AIUDF in a joint statement announced a boycott of the President''s address in the Parliament to register their protest against the three farm laws.
Apart from these 16 parties, BSP, AAP and SAD had also boycotted the President''s address.
The government headed the budget session while the opposition parties'' protested outside the parliament in support of anti-farm law agitations. (ANI)