An unexpected stroke of bad luck ensued with 47-year-old Rahul Gandhi as he had to sit down not in the first or even the fourth row, but the sixth row during the Republic Day parade at Delhi’s Rajpath.
It was for the first time since independence that a Congress president had to take a seat closer to the commoners than to the dignitaries. However, he claimed that the move did not bother him and met the dignitaries at Rashtrapati Bhawan with a normal gesture.
The less personally he took things, the more confident he looked. By sitting in the sixth row, he showed that he cared about the people and not for a strictly transactional relationship.
The abrupt denial of front-row seat to the Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the Republic Day parade did not bother him. But why was there such a fuss then? Sonia Gandhi had been given a front row seat for the past several years but the same gesture was not extended to the Congress party’s fresh president. This was what caused discomfort to Congress party members who referred to this seating arrangement as ‘cheap politics’.
In 2012, when the Congress was at power in the Centre, the BJP had threatened to boycott the functions at Rashtrapati Bhawan because its leaders were not seated at the main table with the President.
Rahul Gandhi still attended the Republic Day programme with much ease, firmness and integrity.
There was no violation of protocol as per the Defence ministry, seeing how in the warrant of precedence, opposition leaders come down the order.
But party loyalists were still bothered. Perhaps it was because, as they pointed out, the leader of the opposition had always been allotted the front-row for the Republic Day parade.
The Congress party’s president might have missed the first row but he enjoyed the show, sitting with veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad at the Rajpath. Although the front-row used to be the Congress party’s prerogative for all these years, the Congress president did not take this gesture very badly.