New Delhi: Ram Madhav, the national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party and a prominent leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, launched a veiled attack Sunday afternoon on Vice President Hamid Ansari via Twitter, questioning his absence from the International Yoga Day event organised in New Delhi the same morning.
Madhav also accused Rajya Sabha TV – the public service broadcaster run by Parliament’s upper house – of blacking out the Yoga Day event “completely” despite being run on taxpayers money. This allegation too was an attack on Ansari, who is chairperson of the RS and the controlling authority for the channel.
Here is the tweet Madhav sent out:
The BJP leader’s allegation against RSTV was immediately countered by others, who tweeted photographic evidence of the channel’s coverage of the yoga events:
— Rai Bahadur Singh (@niff_tee) June 21, 2015
Madhav was also criticised for making an issue of Ansari’s absence when participation in Yoga day events was meant to be purely voluntary.
Later in the day, Madhav deleted his original tweet and posted an apology:
Ironically, Madhav quickly deleted his ‘apology’ tweet too. As the topic trended, the senior BJP leader became the butt of humour:
[[email protected]:46 PM] It turns out the government had not even invited the Vice President to participate in the yoga day event:
Vice President Hamid Ansari was not invited to the Yoga Day event in the capital, his office said tonight.
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) June 21, 2015
Apart from Madhav, the right-wing columnist Swapan Dasgupta also attacked RSTV for allegedly boycotting the yoga day event
All news channels showing Yoga Day, except India's only taxpayer-funded Left channel : Rajya Sabha TV.
— Swapan Dasgupta (@swapan55) June 21, 2015
but drew a rejoinder from others
— vimalsinghchauhan (@vimaliimc) June 21, 2015
and also the channel’s CEO:
— Om Thanvi (@omthanvi) June 21, 2015
This is the second time this year that Vice President Ansari has come under fire from RSS-BJP supporters. On January 26, some of them claimed that he had disrespected the national flag by not saluting it and tweeted a photograph of him standing to attention while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar saluted during the Republic Day march past.
The VP’s office later issued a note clarifying the official protocol on the matter: “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. During the Republic Day Parade, the President of India, as Supreme Commander, takes the salute. As per protocol, the Vice President is required to stand in attention.”
Disclosure: One of the founding editors of The Wire anchors a weekly programme on Rajya Sabha TV.