Taking a swipe at the government for not inviting Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge for the G20 dinner hosted by President Droupadi Murmu, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday said this can happen only in countries where there is no democracy or no opposition and that Bharat has not yet reached the stage where democracy will cease to exist.
“I cannot imagine any other democratic country’s government not inviting the recognised Leader of the Opposition to a state dinner for world leaders. This can happen only in countries where there is no Democracy or no Opposition,” Chidambarm said in a post on ‘X’, formerly known as Twitter. Slamming the government, he added, “I hope India, that is Bharat, has not reached a stage where Democracy and the Opposition will cease to exist.”
Meanwhile, other Congress party leaders said on Friday that the exclusion of Kharge is an assault on democracy and reflects the thinking of the ruling dispensation. Although Kharge and other opposition leaders have not been invited to the dinner tonight, chief ministers of states, including those ruled by opposition parties, have received invites.
Bhupesh Baghel, senior Congress leader and Chhattisgarh chief minister said that the Opposition plays a key part in democracy and so, not inviting the leader of the Opposition is akin to an attack on democracy.
“It is unfortunate that the leader of the Opposition has not been invited. One should respect different views. In a democracy, the opposition has a key role and in such a situation if he has not been invited, it is an attack on democracy,” Baghel told reporters in Raipur. When asked if he was going to attend the dinner, he said, “How can one go? It is a no-fly zone.”
Although the Congress party did not officially respond to the exclusion of Kharge from the dinner, MP and party leader Rahul Gandhi said the action speaks volumes about the thinking behind the move. Gandhi, who is Brussels, Belgium, told the media, “They have decided not to invite the leader of the Opposition, it tells you something. It tells you that they don’t value the leader of 60 per cent of India’s population. And it’s something that people should think about. Why they feel the need to do that and the type of thinking that goes behind that.”
The leader of the Opposition holds a Constitutional position and is equivalent to a union minister in terms of rank. Meanwhile, sources said that all state chief ministers and former prime ministers have been invited to the dinner.
“Indian President Kovind not invited to the Bhoomi Puja of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Bharatiya President Murmu not invited to the opening ceremony of the new Parliament. Congress President Kharge not invited to the G20 Delegates Dinner. Modi hai to Manu hai,” wrote Tamil Nadu Congress leader Mohan Kumaramangalam on Kharge’s exclusion in a post on ‘X’. He also said, “Modi hai to Manu hai”, in an apparent swipe at the caste system.
President Droupadi Murmu will host the dinner for visiting G20 dignitaries at the Bharat Mandapam, the venue for the G20 summit on Saturday evening.
This year, the G20 Summit is being held in New Delhi on September 9-10 under India’s Presidency.
Many dignitaries including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, among others, have arrived to participate in the summit.