Sixth-row seat for Rahul

The Congress did not want to be seen clamouring over Rahul Gandhi's seating arrangements at the Republic Day parade after its initial protest, given that the Congress president himself has spoken out against VIP culture.

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. He said under the UPA, presidents of BJP which was the main opposition, Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh, were allocated seat in the 11th row meant for officials. "Our party believes in value system as we not only follow the rules and traditions but we also ensure the greatest of respect for all our leaders and opposition leaders", Rao said. The Congress president was deliberately made to sit in the sixth row, after initially assigning him a fourth-row seat, at the Republic Day celebrations by the arrogant rulers, who set aside all past traditions.

"His campaign would surely create a wave for the Congress and the party will retain the power in Meghalaya", he said.

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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". When asked about Congress's charge that Rahul was shifted from the fourth row to sixth at the last minute, government sources said sometimes, such changes were required in the case of SPG protectees and no meaning should be read into it. Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala posted a picture of Rahul in the crowd with the tweet: "Modi government's cheap politicking exposed before the world".

India on Friday celebrated its 69th Republic Day with a grand display of the country's military might and rich cultural diversity in the presence of leaders from all the ASEAN nations, in a historic first and unprecedented strategic outreach to the powerful bloc.

  • Megan Austin