What began as a celebration of yoga before dawn on Sunday threatened to turn into a bitter political fight before the day was over — after Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s office clarified that he had not been invited to the event at Rajpath.
The statement from Ansari’s office- reported by PTI- appeared to be in response to tweets posted by senior RSS and BJP leader Ram Madhav, who questioned Ansari’s absence at the event. Madhav subsequently deleted the tweet and apologised to the V-P, saying he had learnt that Ansari was unwell.
But late in the evening, the Vice-President’s office said that that was not correct, PTI reported. “Vice-President was not sick. He was never invited for the yoga programme,” PTI quoted from the statement.
“The Vice-President only attends those programmes in which the Minister concerned invites him as per protocol.”
Madhav also accused Rajya Sabha TV of “completely” blacking out live telecast of the Yoga Day event, despite it being run on taxpayers’ money. As Rajya Sabha chairman, Ansari is the controlling authority for the channel.
This was contradicted by Gurdeep Singh Sappal, CEO of Rajya Sabha TV.
“Baseless rumours. RSTV not just did live telecast of Rajpath event. But also had 3 documentaries, 1 special report today on Yoga”, he tweeted. He also posted the link to the programme on YouTube, saying, “For those who missed it, link to PM’s address on Yoga Day, carried Live on RSTV”.
As the topic trended on Twitter, Madhav deleted both his tweets, including his apology. Sappal tweeted in Hindi, “Ek baar phir RSTV ke khilaaf bebuniyaad afwaah — ki humne Yog Diwas ka blackout kiya. Sarasar jhooth. Aaj Rajpath aur Yog conference se RSTV par live raha (Once again, baseless rumours against RSTV — that we blacked out Yoga Day. Complete lies. RSTV was live today from Rajpath and yoga conference).”
Later, in a statement, Sappal said the channel had carried live coverage of all major Yoga Day functions, PTI reported.
He said RSTV had broadcast live two functions attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also aired the UN function attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
All these programmes and special shows on yoga were available on YouTube as well, he added. “The campaign against RSTV is motivated,” Sappal said.
“Apart from live coverage of important functions, RSTV’s Yoga Day fare also had three documentaries on yoga and a special report on AYUSH,” PTI quoted Sappal as having said.