NEW DELHI: On a day when India struck a perfect pose on International Yoga Day, a single tweet, even though it was deleted minutes later, caused more damage than those who opposed the performance of aasanas.
The controversy over the now deleted tweet of BJP general secretary Ram Madhav on absence of Vice-President Hamid Ansari during the Yoga Day event escalated, with the Congress and other Opposition parties terming it ‘divisive politics’ and demanding an apology from him.
Amid reports that there was unease over Madhav’s comment, the government was forced to clear the air saying Ansari was not invited to the event going by the warrant of precedence as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Guest.
Ayush Minister Sripad Naik said,”Unknowingly this happened and we apologise for that. It should have been avoided. It’s a mistake, he (Madhav) agrees, he apologised. He withdrew his statement.”
Explaining the warrant of precedence, Naik said, “When the Prime Minister is the Chief Guest, then inviting the Vice-President is not proper. That is the protocol. That’s why we did not send him an invite. The President and the Vice-President are above the Prime Minister as per order of precedence and so we could not invite them.”
On Sunday after the Yoga Day, Madhav had tweeted: “Two questions. Did RS TV dat runs on tax payers’ money completely black out Yoga Day event? While President participated d V-P gave a miss (sic).” Later, he deleted the first one and tweeted a second: “I am informed dat d V-P was unwell. I withdrew my tweet. My apologies because d institution of V-P deserves respect (sic).” He soon deleted the second tweet also, but by then social media had picked up the controversy.
On Monday, Madhav tried to down play the controversy. “As far as the tweet is concerned, it was withdrawn and the matter is closed. I want the Yoga event to be remembered. I do not want any further controversy over it,” he said in Jammu.
The Vice-President’s Office had clarified after the controversy that Ansari was not invited. “For us that’s the end of the matter,” it said.
However, the Opposition parties, who were not particularly enthusiastic about the event, cried foul.
Congress spokesperson R P N Singh said, “The Vice-President has been targeted on International Yoga Day. While Yoga is all inclusive, the BJP has showed its divisive politics through such an action. Madhav should apologise.” AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmad attacked the BJP and the RSS for Madhav’s tweet saying that the latter was a representative of the RSS in the BJP.
NCP leader Majid Memon, said, “Is it because he is Muslim? The government and the PM must answer how a Vice-President was not invited. It is a serious omission.”
The BJP, on its part, said the matter was closed as Madhav himself had clarified. Meanwhile, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu also tweeted: “President proved to be the people’s President once again, led by example on Yoga Day at Rashtrapati Bhavan and guided the nation.”