Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav stoked a controversy by questioning vice president Hamid Ansari’s absence at the Yoga Day celebration in the capital, prompting Ansari’s to respond that he was not invited to the event.
Madhav deleted a tweet he posted on Sunday questioning Ansari's absence and then apologised, saying he later learnt that the vice president was unwell. He subsequently deleted the tweet with the apology too.
The vice president's office said in a statement that reports about him being unwell were incorrect.
"Vice president was not sick. He was never invited for the yoga programme," it said. "The vice president only attends those programmes in which the minister concerned invites him as per protocol."
A screen grab of the first tweet deleted by Ram Madhav.
Madhav, a national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, had in his first tweet questioned whether Rajya Sabha TV had blacked out Yoga Day and whether Ansari had given the event a miss. Though he deleted the tweet, several Twitter users shared screenshots of it.
Subsequently, the former RSS leader tweeted he had been informed Ansari was unwell and that he was withdrawing his first tweet. He apologised because the "institution of VP deserves respect". After some time, Madhav deleted the second tweet too, though Twitter users again shared screenshots of it.
Some Twitter users pointed out Rajya Sabha TV had beamed programmes on Yoga Day and posted screenshots of its YouTube channel that featured several videos on the event.
Gurdeep Singh Sappal, CEO of Rajya Sabha TV tweeted: "Baseless rumours. RSTV not just did live telecast of Rajpath event. But also had 3 documentaries, 1 special report today on Yoga."
Rajya Sabha TV is the public service broadcaster run by parliament's upper house. As Rajya Sabha chairman, Ansari is the controlling authority for the channel.
A Twitter user shared a screenshot of the second tweet deleted by Ram Madhav.
@svaradarajan And MR @rammadhavbjp is wrong. See pic enclosed! pic.twitter.com/nHlEhJSnoT
— Rai Bahadur Singh (@niff_tee) June 21, 2015
Madhav was criticised on social media for making an issue of Ansari's absence when participation in Yoga Day events was voluntary. Some described his criticism of the vice president as “shameful and embarrassing” and said he was doing "foot in the mouth asana".
In January, Ansari was viciously attacked on social media for not saluting the tricolor while the national anthem was being played during Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. Some social media users even accused Ansari of breaching protocol by not saluting the flag.
However, a statement from the vice-president's office clarified there was no breach. "As per the protocol, when the national anthem is played, the principal dignitary and persons in uniform take the salute. Those in civil dress stand in attention," it said.
Sappal, who is also officer on special duty to Ansari, had then tweeted to clarify that protocol clearly states the vice president is not supposed to salute the flag when the President is present.