Attacking Hamid Ansari on Yoga Day: Dear Ram Madhav, deleting your tweets isn't enough

Ansari is perhaps the only Vice President to have his credentials questioned by those supporting the government on two different national occasions in a calender year for completely nonsensical reasons.

Arun George June 22, 2015 15:06:15 IST
Attacking Hamid Ansari on Yoga Day: Dear Ram Madhav, deleting your tweets isn't enough

Hamid Ansari has many unique achievements to his name. He's only the second Vice President to have two consecutive terms and he will have presided over 10 years of what some would say is the most raucous sessions of the Rajya Sabha ever. He is also perhaps the only Vice President to have his credentials questioned by those supporting the government on two different national occasions in a calender year for completely nonsensical reasons.

Attacking Hamid Ansari on Yoga Day Dear Ram Madhav deleting your tweets isnt enough

PTI image

Just under five months after questions were raised over him not saluting the Indian flag at the Republic Day event while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee did, the latest person to target Ansari was no faceless troll but the RSS leader-turned-BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav.

Madhav chose to hit out at the Vice President and Rajya Sabha TV channel over the telecast of the Yoga Day celebrations taking place at Rajpath on Twitter.

So he first tweeted:

Attacking Hamid Ansari on Yoga Day Dear Ram Madhav deleting your tweets isnt enough

Then he suddenly  deleted his first tweet, and  then issued a new tweet :

Attacking Hamid Ansari on Yoga Day Dear Ram Madhav deleting your tweets isnt enough

 

But there was egg on the face awaiting Madhav. The Vice President's office issued a terse statement saying it wasn't illness that kept him away from Rajpath or any of the hundred other events that had been organised to mark the day.

"Vice President was not sick. He was never invited for the yoga programme," it said, adding, "the Vice President only attends those programmes in which the Minister concerned invites him as per protocol".

Even Rajya Sabha TV's editor-in-chief Gurdeep Sappal tweeted, denying Madhav's allegations calling them a 'baseless' rumour and 'absolute lie':

He pointed out there were two live event telecasts, three documentaries and a special report on AYUSH to mark International Yoga Day.

Madhav then quietly deleted his second tweet as well, but not before he managed to hit a bitter note that marred another successful PR event for the Modi government. What should have been a celebration of Indian culture on the world stage became about petty politics, and aimed at one of the most prominent Muslim leaders in India.

However, the outrage on Twitter was hard to miss and here are some samples:

Now some on Twitter are defending Madhav saying that making this an issue about communalism is unfair. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

When he was seen not saluting the flag, the venom against the vice president was difficult to miss. As we'd noted at the time, among the many things he was called included derogatory terms like 'anti-India', 'jihadi-sympathiser' and 'traitor'. Perhaps the only smart thing that Madhav did do in his tweets was that he didn't make it obvious why he was targeting the Vice President and gave himself enough wiggle room to escape being called a communalist.

Madhav may have targeted the Rajya Sabha Television channel because they've been accused of running up expenses even in the time of austerity. And the RSS leader-turned-BJP secretary may also have chosen to target the Vice President because the government sees him as not playing ball with them in curbing the opposition in the Rajya Sabha where a lot of its legislation is stuck. But whatever his reasons may have been, after the manner in which Ansari was targeted over the Republic Day non-salute, it becomes a little difficult to believe the BJP leader wasn't also targeting the Vice President because of his religion.

Ansari managed to stay above the fray by sticking to a statement and not indulging in the muck raking unlike Madhav. Madhav's acknowledged that the office of the Vice President deserves respect and he'd do well to show it by issuing an apology to Ansari. It's perhaps the only route left for him to show that he was just being a reckless and foolish on Twitter and not a bigot.

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