Amid a growing political row over the inauguration of the new Parliament building, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday took a dig at the opposition parties’ decision to boycott the event and their sudden respect for the President.

“The new Parliament is the “temple of democracy” where every elected member from across parties will have to go and discuss the issues of the Indian citizens. After being elected to the Parliament in 2014, Prime Minister Modi entered the building by bowing on its steps as he respected it as a temple of democracy. You may or may not like the PM, but the temple of democracy deserves respect by all and it is not right to boycott such an event that every Indian should be proud of,” she said here while discussing the ‘Sengole’ and the importance associated with it for transfer of power at the highest levels.

“I humbly request them to reconsider their decision at least for the sake of the people as they are elected members by the people for the people,” she added.

Responding to questions on the opposition parties’ demand for the inauguration of the new Parliament building by the President, Sitharaman said she was surprised by such a demand by the opposition parties.

“Parties which today see the Rashtrapathiji as a very eminent leader, particularly coming from the tribal background, are the ones who undertook a big campaign against her. I don’t wish to recall the kind of words they used against her at the time. Leaders of these same opposition parties spoke ill of her, accused her, and said she would be a rubber stamp. They also said she represented evil forces. I can give the list of abusive words they used. Not one in that group said anything to honour her.

“Today, suddenly, they say we should respect her. Prime Minister gives due respect to her and all of us are extremely proud of Rashtrapathiji. Surprisingly, people who ran abusive campaigns are suddenly reminded about the President, she added.

Explaining further, Sitharaman said that the opposition parties, boycotting the event, followed double standards in their demands.

She explained that Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation of the New Vidhan Sabha building of Chhattisgarh a few years ago. Though she didn’t hold any constitutional position in Chhattisgarh, she was invited to do so. Similarly, the Governor of Telangana was not asked to inaugurate the new Secretariat building of the Telangana government in Hyderabad last month. It was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of the Telangana State.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, who was present at the meeting confirmed that she was not extended an invite for the inauguration.

Sitharaman said 20 “aadeenams” (pontiffs) from Tamil Nadu have been invited for the inauguration of the new Parliament on May 28, where the Sengol, which symbolised the transfer of power from the British to Indians in 1947, will be installed at the new Parliament. After Jawaharlal Nehru received it on August 14, 1947, it was kept at the Allahabad Museum (today’s Pragyaraj) in Uttar Pradesh.