New Delhi: The BJP on Saturday slammed the Congress for kicking up an "unwarranted controversy" over its party chief Rahul Gandhi being given a sixth-row seat at the Republic Day Parade.
The party also accused the Congress leader of behaving like a "super VVIP".
"The whole nation celebrated the Republic Day with great fervour yesterday (Friday), but the only jarring note in that celebration was the unwarranted controversy raised by the Congress party keeping its newly elected President at the centre," Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao told the media.
"I want to tell the Congress party that we are a democracy and not an aristocracy, and in a democracy a government or a democratic setup acts according to the rules, laws. It does not function according to individuals," he said.
At the same time, the BJP leader urged the Congress to stop indulging in such "cheap politics" saying that "it does not do any good to Indian democracy and in the new India".
Slamming the Gandhi scion, he said, "Rahul Gandhi is trying to tell the country that I am a super VVIP. And therefore I should be put ahead of everybody else even if I have no position, even if I do not fall in the protocol list," as per IANS.
"Where is the question of not giving respect to the opposition leaders? Our party believes in value system as we not only follow the rules and traditions but we also ensure the greatest of respect for all our leaders and opposition leaders," Rao said.
The BJP spokesperson's remarks came after the Congress accused the government of indulging in "cheap politics" by allotting the Congress chief a sixth-row seat at the parade to which the leaders of 10 ASEAN nations were invited.
On Friday, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala had said that the Modi government's "cheap politics" was at display when it broke tradition and denied Gandhi a front-row seat.
"The Modi government's cheap politics is for all to see. The Congress president was deliberately made to sit in the sixth row, after initially assigning him a fourth-row seat, at the Republic Day celebrations by the arrogant rulers, who set aside all past traditions. For us the celebration of the Constitution is foremost," Surjewala had tweeted in Hindi.
He had also tagged a picture of Rahul seated along with Azad at the Republic Day function.
Former PM HD Deve Gowda and Manmohan Singh were seen seated in the front row in the picture, followed by Union ministers Smriti Irani and Thawarchand Gehlot.
मोदी सरकार की ओछी राजनीति जग ज़ाहिर!
कांग्रेस अध्यक्ष श्री राहुल गांधी को गणतंत्र दिवस के राष्ट्रीय पर्व पर अंहकारी शासकों ने सारी परंपराओं को दरकिनार करके पहले चौथी पंक्ति और फिर छठी पंक्ति में जानबूझकर बिठाया।
हमारे लिये संविधान का उत्सव ही सर्व प्रथम है। pic.twitter.com/8bRi017G8J
— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) January 26, 2018
Meanwhile, India celebrated its 69th Republic Day with a grand display of the country's military might and rich cultural diversity in the presence of leaders from all the ASEAN nations, in a historic first and unprecedented strategic outreach to the powerful bloc.
It was the first time that leaders from ten countries attended the annual celebrations as chief guests, and the overwhelming presence of the ASEAN leadership is seen as a reflection of India's growing stature as a major power in the region where China has been expanding its footprint.
Thousands of people on both sides of the Rajpath, India's ceremonial boulevard facing the seat of power on the Raisina Hill, braved the winter chill and cheered loudly as the marching contingents and tableaux went past them, PTI reported.
The celebrations were attended by most of the Union ministers, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Health Minister JP Nadda, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan.
(With Agency inputs)