Row over Rahul's seating continues

Last Updated 27 January 2018, 17:48 IST

The Congress did not want to be seen clamouring over  Rahul Gandhi's seating arrangements at the Republic Day parade after its initial protest, given that the Congress president himself has spoken out against VIP culture.

But the BJP's response to the Congress' first reaction stoked further controversy, forcing the Opposition party to respond and keep the row going.

Responding to the Congress' objections over Rahul being allotted a seat only in the sixth row, the BJP said the Congress chief was allotted his position according to protocols.

"BJP leaders were treated similarly during the Congress rule but we had never made it an issue.  The idea of democracy is nowhere to be seen in its (Congress) mentality, which boasts of being called the oldest political party in India,"  BJP leader G V L Narsimha Rao said  at a press conference.

"The Congress is under the delusion that this country will run in the name of a particular family, despite having been rejected by the people's mandate," he said.

In response,  Congress general secretary B K Hariprasad said, "It is the arrogance of the prime minister that is brushing upon the leaders of the BJP.  When the prime minister doesn't use parliamentary language, what  do you expect of spokespersons?  We never insulted the Opposition leaders when we were in power," he said.

The Congress also said senior BJP leaders  such as  Sushma Swaraj and L K Advani were seated in the front row when it was in power and has never stooped so low in politics.

Rao was responding to Congress leader Randeep Surjewala's remarks a day earlier that "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."

Responding to the controversy, Rahul told a reporter that he was "not bothered" what seat he has been  allocated.

At a reception hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind in the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul had exchanged greetings.

(Published 27 January 2018, 15:30 IST)

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