Modi swearing-in: NCP says government flouted protocol for Pawar

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Mumbai, May 31 (IANS) The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Friday accused the NDA government of violating protocol, which compelled its chief Sharad Pawar to skip the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said that there was a specified protocol for seating VIPs and the government allocated a seat in the fifth row to Pawar, instead of the front row.

“It was the responsibility of the government to ensure that proper protocol was observed when inviting a person of the stature of Pawar, who heads a national political party, and has served as a senior cabinet minister in the Centre for years,” Malik told mediapersons.

He was reacting to intense speculation on the probable reasons why Pawar decided to opt out at the last minute from Modi’s mega-swearing-in event in the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday evening.

Malik added that while it was the prerogative of the government to invite over 8,000 people, the government should have adhered to the laid down protocol in allotting a suitable seat for Pawar.

“In our country, industrialists and film stars are not entitled to any official protocol, yet many of them were accorded importance and seated prominently, but the deserving leaders of national stature were pushed to the back rows,” Malik rued.

He sought to know whether the government would admit its mistake and take steps to ensure it was not repeated, and also initiate action against those responsible for the lapses.

To a query, he said it was clear that “this is a Modi-Amit Shah government” and many senior leaders had been sidelined and others had been kept out of the cabinet.

Malik also ruled out any merger of the NCP and the Congress to enable the Congress to stake claim to the post of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

–IANS

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