Rahul Gandhi watches R-Day parade from sixth row, Congress cries foul

Last Updated 26 January 2018, 12:52 IST

Congress leaders were furious at the Modi government as party President Rahul Gandhi was made to sit in the sixth row in the VIP enclosure to watch the Republic Day parade roll down the Rajpath Friday morning.

Gandhi was seen seated next to leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad with their posse of security personnel standing in the aisle as President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and heads of state and governments from 10 Asean nations took a seat on a special podium.

However, Gandhi was given a seat in the second row at the 'At Home' function hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Gandhi and Modi were also seen greeting each other as they came face-to-face in Rashtrapati Bhawan.

At the Republic Day parade, the first row in the VIP enclosure was taken by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, BJP President Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Agriculture Minister Radhamohan Singh among others.

An angry Congress alleged breach of protocol and "deliberate humiliation" of Gandhi in front of world leaders.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Modi government's "cheap politics" was at display when it broke tradition and denied Gandhi a front-row seat at the parade.

"The arrogant rulers deliberately seated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the fourth row, then sixth row, on Republic Day, discarding all convention. For us celebrating the Republic is above all," he said.

Congress leaders were also angry at the government for not arranging meetings of Gandhi with the heads of state/government of the 10 Asean nations. They recalled that the government had also prevented a meeting between Gandhi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On the eve of Republic Day, Gandhi wrote an open letter to people asking them to defend the Constitution and its treasured commitment to justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.

The Congress president said everyone must remember the Indian Constitution and the commitment it made to citizens. "On this Republic day, let us renew our lifelong pledge to protect our Constitution, the keystone of our cherished Republic, and to defend it as one people, whenever it is endangered," he said.

(Published 26 January 2018, 12:30 IST)

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