A day after BJP general secretary Ram Madhav set off a row over what he called the “absence” of Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari from the International Yoga Day celebrations, a senior member of the Government is said to have communicated a message of regret to Ansari.
Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik — the Yoga Day events in Delhi were held under the aegis of his Ministry — also apologised for the tweet and said that the Vice President had not been invited to the Rajpath event because it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was the chief guest. Citing protocol, he told The Indian Express that the Prime Minister could not be the chief guest at a function attended by the Vice-President. “He is ranked above the prime minister in the order of precedence,” he said, adding that “Ram Madhavji may not have been aware of all this when he tweeted.”
Nayak said: “We apologise for that, it was inadvertent. In any case, he has deleted the tweet now. So the matter is over.”
According to PTI, Madhav told reporters in Jammu: “As far as the tweet is concerned, it was withdrawn and the matter is closed there and ends there.” He said, “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.”
The Vice President’s Office told The Indian Express, “We have taken note of the comments made by Naik on record in the media…What he has stated appears logical and, therefore, for us, that’s the end of the matter.”
The controversy had erupted after Madhav had tweeted: “Two questions. Did RS TV (that) runs on tax payers money completely black out Yoga Day event? While President participated (did) VP gave a miss.”
The reference to Rajya Sabha TV, run by Parliament’s Upper House, was also loaded given the fact that Ansari, being the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, is the controlling authority for the channel.
Madhav’s tweets set off a storm on social media with his supporters slamming Ansari, many of them linking his “absence” to his Muslim faith.
The Vice President’s office made it known that he had not been invited to the event. Madhav tweeted again, this time to say: “I am informed (that the) VP was unwell. I withdrew my tweet. My apologies because d institution of VP deserves respect (sic)”. As the issue trended, he deleted both tweets. He was contradicted again by the Vice-President’s office which maintained that he was not unwell.
Madhav, a key player in the current BJP establishment — he has been deputed by the RSS to the party — is deeply involved in the political management of the BJP-PDP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir.
Incidentally, immediately after the Republic Day parade this year, Ansari was under attack on social media that showed him not saluting the Indian flag while President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were doing so.
Once again, his office had to respond saying that according to protocol, only those who are in uniform salute the national flag while the anthem is played. The office had to cite the Flag Code of India (Section VI) to counter criticism, some of which, like this time, questioned his faith, too: “During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in a review, all persons present should face the flag and stand at attention. Those present in uniform should render the appropriate salute. A dignitary may take the salute without a head dress”.