Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh said on Tuesday he had not offered to quit in the wake of a controversy over his tweets defining 'duty' and 'disgust' that he posted after attending the Pakistan Day reception in the Capital.
"My tweets on duty and disgust have been misinterpreted," the former army chief told a news conference late on Tuesday, a day after he made a brief appearance of about 10 minutes at the function hosted by high commissioner Abdul Basit at the Pakistani mission.
"I have attended a lot of national day celebrations but haven’t eaten at any of these events... that's my set schedule," Singh said, explaining why he left the event after a short stay.
"One because I don’t have time, and second because I am not very fond of eating."
Soon after the event on Monday, Singh’s followers strongly criticised his presence at the Pakistan Day function, with some using the hashtag #partywithenemy.
Singh then posted a series of cryptic tweets -- with the hashtags #Duty and #Disgust -- that many interpreted as a suggestion that he was unhappy about representing the government at the event.
As the media extensively covered the row over Singh's tweets, some TV news channels reported earlier on Tuesday that he had offered to step down.
But, Singh stressed he was fully committed to “my party and my government”. He maintained that attending the Pakistan Day function was only a matter of protocol.
“There was nothing new in the event, including attendance by (Kashmiri) separatists,” he said.
Separatist leaders such as Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were among those who attended the event, and Basit had even said the Indian government had no objections to his interactions with the Hurriyat. India, however, had reacted strongly and rejected any role for the separatists in settling the Kashmir issue.
‘I don’t owe an explanation’
Earlier in the day, Singh had said it was the government's decision to send him to the Pakistan Day event and he didn’t “owe an explanation to anybody”.
The minister pointed out the Hurriyat Conference had been attending the Pakistan Day event for 20 years, and said he failed to understand why there was a “brouhaha” over the issue.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sources told HT that Singh’s tweets hadn’t gone down too well with the government too and he had been told to clarify his stand.