True, it was these records that captured the imagination of most BJP spokespersons and leaders who were basking in the glory of the spectacle at Rajpath yesterday where thousands of citizens practiced Yoga with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This while one of Modi's closest confidantes and BJP Secretary Ram Madhav took on the second citizen of India, Vice President Hamid Ansari, for not participating in International Yoga Day. Madhav,who made the transformation from the RSS to the BJP about a year ago, asked this question in all innocence if BJP spokespersons were to be believed.
He later tweeted that he was unaware that the VP was unwell and then deleted his tweet attacking the Vice-President. Yes, Madhav's tweet was innocent, as innocent as his party MP Yogi Adityanath's statement that those whon did not wish to practice Surya Namaskar could go to Pakistan. The connotation here need not be explained - Ram Madhav's dig at the Vice President is not divorced from Mr Ansari's religion, this writer believes.
And Ram Madhav did not stop at this. He accused Rajya Sabha TV, the state-run broadcaster, of blacking out the live telecast of the Yoga Day event 'completely' despite it being run on taxpayers' money. The reason for the attack is that the Rajya Sabha TV channel's controlling authority is Hamid Ansari. However, Madhav's claims were soon contradicted by Gurdeep Singh Sappal, CEO of Rajya Sabha TV who wrote "Baseless rumours. RSTV not just did live telecast of Rajpath event. But also had 3 documentaries, 1 special report today on Yoga."
What Ram Madhav failed to tell us - which was clarified later by the Vice President's office - wasthat Hamid Ansari was in the best of health but was missing in attendance because the Ayush Ministry refused to extend him an invitation to the event at Rajpath. Since then, the government has said that it would be a breach of protocol to invite the Vice President to an event where the PM is the lead player.
This is not the first time that Hamid Ansari who holds one of the highest offices in India had to go through an embarrassing situation that is linked to his religion. On Republic Day, he had to face a humiliating barrage of questions on his patriotism when he did not salute the national flag. Again those who questioned Hamid Ansari and his patriotism must read Section VI of the flag code of India. Hamid Ansari was a true nationalist as he followed protocol which demands "During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag, or when the flag is passing in a parade or in a review, all persons present should face the Flag and stand at attention. Those present in uniform should render the appropriate salute." Basically, the main dignitary (in this case, the President) takes the salute; the others need to stand in attention.
Ansari did the right thing, but not for "nationalists"in India who used the term "Jihadi" and "Pakistani"for him on social media and other fora. This time, it was not social media, but one of the senior-most members of the BJP, Ram Madhav, who questioned the patriotism of Hamid Ansari. I do not need to be diplomatic here but state in as many terms that Ansari was targeted by virtue of his faith. The BJP did not just make a gimmick of Yoga by turning it into a one-time spectacle like the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan but has made the compulsory practice of Yoga in educational institutions a yardstick to judge the loyalty of the people to the Indian state.
The BJP reduced a beautiful spiritual exercise into a measure of the nationalism and patriotism of its citizens. It wanted the event to be an exercise in which chest-thumping caricatures would perform the Surya Namaskar to prove their allegiance to the Indian state, a flawed idea which the Indian right-wing and the government seem to be endorsing overtly and covertly.
Why is it that none of us questioned Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for not saluting the national flag on Republic Day, but were aghast at Ansari's alleged transgression? Why does the burden of proving nationalism and patriotism lie only on Hamid Ansari and not other (Hindu) leaders?
Perhaps Ram Madhav answered the question himself yesterday and the unfortunate truth is that none of the BJP leaders will condemn him for humiliating the highest office in India.
The 'un-patriotic' citizens of this country who have had to bear the humiliation of being called "haraamzaade" by another BJP MP were asked to leave for Pakistan by Yogi Adityanath as Pakistan is seen to be the land which Indian Muslims hold allegiance to. And this unfortunate myth-making will continue to be given credence , proof of which was given to the country when Hamid Ansari stood humiliated last night. Sorry to say this BJP, but true to our apprehensions, you turned International Yoga Day into an exercise not in pluralism but communalism. And we as proud, patriotic citizens of this country are ashamed that you proved true to our apprehensions.