HRD Minister Arjun Singh on Thursday faced questions as to why BJP stalwart and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was invited to the event marking the 150th anniversary of the 1857 uprising at Red Fort on May 11 since he holds the view that saffron forces had played no role in the freedom movement.
"NDA has an important place in the political scenario. This is not the time to go into an analysis on whether the BJP had participated in the freedom movement or not," he said at a media conference to brief the press on the upcoming event.
Singh said the BJP may or may not have participated in the freedom movement, but the other constituents of the NDA such as Janata Dal had taken part in the fight for independence.
Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who also belonged to the BJP, has been invited and has conveyed his consent to attend the celebrations.
President A P J Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, among others, will be attending the function.
Invitations have also been sent to former Prime Ministers V P Singh, H D Deve Gowda, Chandrashekhar, I K Gujral as also freedom fighters.
Interestingly, Singh did not mention the names of Shekhawat and Vajpayee while giving the names of the leaders attending the function.
Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, who was also present at the briefing, said Shekhawat would be attending the function and an invitation had been sent to Vajpayee.