Row over Ansari escalates, BJP playing divisive politics, says Congress

The government clarifies that the Vice-President was not invited for the Yoga Day celebrations due to protocol issues.

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:57 pm IST

Published - June 22, 2015 03:05 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga during the International Day of Yoga on Rajpath in New Delhi on Sunday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs yoga during the International Day of Yoga on Rajpath in New Delhi on Sunday.

The row over BJP general secretary Ram Madhav questioning Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s absence at the Yoga Day celebrations escalated on Monday, with the Congress accusing the ruling party of playing “divisive” politics and the government clarifying that he was not invited because of protocol issues.

Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, whose Ministry organised the International Day of Yoga on Rajpath on Sunday, said when the Prime Minister is the chief guest at a programme, the President or the Vice-President cannot be invited as per protocol as the two are above the Prime Minister in order of precedence.

“When the Prime Minister is chief guest, then inviting the Vice-President is not proper. That’s why we did not send the invite to him. President and Vice President are above the Prime Minister as per order of precedence and we cannot invite them accordingly,” he said.

It should have been avoided: Naik

Seeking to downplay the controversy, Mr. Naik said Mr. Madhav had withdrawn his statement. “It may have happened by mistake. It should have been avoided, but we agreed to our mistake,” he added.

In the wake of the government’s clarification on the issue, the Vice-President’s Office noted that the matter was closed for them as the Minister’s statement “seems logical.” It said, "For us that’s the end of the matter.”

Congress seeks apology

However, the Congress was unsatisfied by the government’s clarification and accused the BJP of playing “divisive politics” on International Day of Yoga by targeting Mr. Ansari, and demanded that Mr. Madhav tender an apology.

“The Vice-President has been targeted on International Yoga Day. While yoga is all inclusive, the BJP has showed its divisive politics by such an action. Ram Madhav should apologise,” Congress spokesperson R.P.N. Singh told reporters.

He said the government should not claim undue credit over yoga, He emphasised that the spiritual and physical exercise form had been practised in India from time immemorial.

Asked about the controversy, Mr. Madhav said, “As far as the tweet is concerned, it was withdrawn and the matter is closed there and ends there.”

He said there was no further discussion on the issue from his side. “I want the yoga event to be remembered for millions and millions of people who have participated in it. I do not want any further controversy over it or any issue,” he added.

On Sunday, Mr. Madhav stoked a controversy by questioning Mr. Ansari’s absence at the Yoga Day event but later apologised after he was criticised on the social media platform.

>Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s office had said he was not invited to the event .

Mr. Madhav deleted the tweet about Mr. Ansari’s absence and apologised, saying he later learnt that the Vice-President was unwell.

The Vice President’s office, however, said it was not correct. “Vice-President was not sick. He was never invited for the yoga programme,” it said adding, “The Vice-President only attends those programmes in which the Minister concerned invites him as per protocol.”

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