NEW DELHI -- While Prime Minister Narendra Modi led almost 36,000 people at the International Yoga Day program at the Rajpath, Vice President Hamid Ansari said that he was not invited to the celebrations in the heart of Delhi, where 84 nationalities participated.
After his absence was questioned by a senior BJP leader, Ansari said that he was not set an invite by the Modi government.
"Vice President was not sick. He was never invited for the yoga programme," said a statement from his office, PTI reported. "The Vice President only attends those programmes in which the minister concerned invites him as per protocol."
Modi's efforts to make International Yoga Day a mega event in Delhi have been widely regarded as a success, but the failure to invite the Vice President is viewed as serious error, especially after his government's push for Muslims to be involved in the June 21 event.
On Monday afternoon, the centre defended its position by claiming that invitations a matter of protocol. "We can't invite the Vice-President when the Prime Minister is the chief guest," said Shripad Naik, the union minister who organised the yoga program.
Citing sources, NDTV said that Ansari was "unhappy" at not being invited. "There are no protocol issues. Mr Ansari practises yoga regularly. He can be invited by the ministry concerned, this time he wasn't."
A few hours later, the vice president's office said the matter was "closed" as Naik's statement “seems logical," PTI reported. “For us that’s the end of the matter,” a statement said.
The Vice President only pointed out that he was not invited after his absence was questioned by the BJP general secretary Ram Madhav. First, Madhav used to Twitter to point out that Ansari was missing from the Yoga program at the Rajpath, and then he said Ansari was sick.
Madhav deleted both messages but Twitter users took screenshots of his tweets.
Congress Party accused the BJP of playing "divisive politics," and called on Madhav to resign.
Naik, however, said that Madhav's "mistake should have been avoided." “It may have happened by mistake. It should have been avoided, but we agreed to our mistake,” he said.