The Centre said on Monday vice-president Hamid Ansari was not invited to the Yoga Day function to maintain protocol even as the Congress accused the government of playing divisive politics, escalating a row over an alleged insult to a constitutional post.
The Centre’s clarification came in the midst of a controversy triggered by senior BJP leader Ram Madhav who had questioned Ansari’s absence at the Yoga Day celebrations in the national capital on Sunday, prompting the vice-president to respond that he was not invited to the event.
“The President and vice-president hold higher ranks so it wouldn’t have been right to call them when the Prime Minister was the chief guest and that’s why no invitation was sent to him,” said Union minister Shripad Naik, a day after the countrywide event held as part of the first International Yoga Day.
Naik, the minister of state for Ayush - the department which promotes ancient disciplines like yoga – also said everything was “done according to the rules and there shouldn’t be any controversy on this.”
Madhav, whose tweet had triggered the controversy, also said he wanted the controversy to end.
“I want the yoga event to be remembered. Millions and millions of people participated in it. I do not want any further controversy. The matter closes here,” the BJP general secretary and RSS nominee in the party told reporters in Jammu.
Madhav had deleted the tweet he had posted on Sunday, saying he later learnt that the vice-president was unwell but twitter users shared screenshots of it, sparking off a backlash on social media. The vice-president's office also said in a statement that reports about him being unwell were incorrect.
Seeking to downplay the controversy, Naik said Madhav has withdrawn his statement and added it may have happened by mistake.
“It should have been avoided, but we agreed to our mistake,” he said.
In the wake of government's clarification on the issue, the vice-president's office too said the matter is closed for them as the minister's statement “seems logical”.
The Congress, however, was unsatisfied by the government's clarification and accused BJP of playing “divisive politics” and demanded that Madhav tender an apology.
Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also said the Centre has become a habitual offender to people holding constitutional offices and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should learn decorum from veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.