New Delhi: The controversy over BJP leader Ram Madhav 'targeting' Vice President Hamid Ansari for his absence at the Yoga Day celebrations here escalated on Monday with the Congress accusing the ruling party of playing "divisive" politics.
The Government on its part cited protocol to say that the Vice President can't be invited to an event where the Prime Minister is chief guest amid reports that it is upset with the needless controversy triggered by Madhav's tweets.
Union Minister Shripad Naik while citing the warrant of precedence also apologised for Ansari's absence being questioned.
"Unknowingly something happens, we apologise for that. It should have been avoided. It's a mistake, he(Madhav) agrees, he apologised. He withdrew his statement." Naik said while seeking to downplay the controversy.
Congress 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.
Citing protocol, Naik said, "When the Prime Minister is chief guest, then inviting the Vice President is not proper. That is protocol. 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."
Naik is the Minister of State for AYUSH--the Ministry that organised the International Day of Yoga event at Rajpath.
Asked about the controversy, Madhav said, "As far as the tweet is concerned, it was withdrawn and the matter is closed there and ends there."
He said there is no further discussion on the issue from his side.
"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," he told reporters in Jammu.
AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmad said Madhav's statement was unfortunate.
"Certainly it is very unfortunate and this shows the mindset of the RSS, because Mr Ram Madhav is the representative of the RSS in the BJP, that how they are trying to divide the society or how they try to politicise Yoga."
...Targetting the Vice-President of this country exclusively on the basis of his name or you may call it by basis of his religion is certainly unfortunate and it shows simply the mentality of RSS and BJP," he added.