Rahul seated based on protocol: BJP

He sat closer to the masses than to dignitaries, and union ministers.

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said the Modi government's "cheap politics" was at display on Friday when it broke tradition and denied Gandhi a front-row seat.

Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi was allotted a seat in the front row for three years (from 2015-17) in her capacity as the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha. "BJP did not make an issue of the seating arrangements made for BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh during UPA regime in 2013 and 2014". "The arrogant rulers deliberately seated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the fourth row, then, in the sixth row, on Republic Day, discarding all convention".

He wanted to mark India's 69th Republic Day celebrations with calls for an Azad Kashmir.

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".

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The ruling party said that the Congress treated the BJP leaders similarly when it ruled the country, PTI reported. "It's their (BJP) way of saying so". The party said its chiefs were not even offered seats in the VIP area when Congress was in power at the Centre.

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday rebuffed the Congress" objections to its president Rahul Gandhi being at the Republic Day function, saying he considered himself a "super VVIP who should be put ahead of everyone else'.

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.

When asked about the seating, "I am not bothered about where I am sitting", Rahul told, also dismissing as "cheap publicity" suggestions that he should buy a public ticket to make a point.

  • Sonia Alvarado