New Delhi, Jun 22: The row over BJP general secretary Ram Madhav questioning Vice President Hamid Ansari's absence at the Yoga Day celebrations escalated today, with Congress accusing the ruling party of playing "divisive" politics and the latter clarifying he was not invited because of protocol issues.
Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, whose Ministry organised the International Day of Yoga event at Rajpath yesterday, said when Prime Minister is the chief guest at a programme, the President or Vice President cannot be invited as per protocol as the two are above the PM 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.
Seeking to downplay the controversy, Naik said Madhav has withdrawn his statement and added it may have happened by mistake. "It may have happened by mistake.
It should have been avoided, but we agreed to our mistake," he said. In the wake of government's clarification on the issue, the Vice President's Office said the matter is closed for them as the Minister's statement "seems logical".
"For us that's the end of the matter," it said. However, Congress was unsatisfied by the government's clarification and accused BJP of playing "divisive politics" on the International Day of Yoga by targeting Ansari and demanded that Madhav tender an apology.
"The Vice President has been targeted on International Yoga Day. While yoga is all inclusive, BJP has showed its divisive politics by such an action.
Ram Madhav should apologise," party spokesperson R P N Singh told reporters. Suggesting that the Narendra Modi government should not claim undue credit over yoga, Singh also emphasised that the spiritual and physical exercise form has been practised in India from the time immemorial.