The Vice President "never attends such ceremonies organized in the Central Hall of Parliament as a matter of convention," the Rajya Sabha Secretariat said on Monday, responding to reports about the November 14 function in parliament. The day was the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the country, and is marked by floral tributes to his portrait in the Central Hall.
The Congress had alleged that the function was not attended by any senior minister, Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu or Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. .
November 14 is the birth anniversary of the nation's first Prime Minister and floral tributes are paid to his portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament every year.
Congress's chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh tweeted: "Extraordinary scene today in Parliament at the traditional function to mark the birth anniversary of those whose portraits adorn the Central Hall. Speaker Lok Sabha absent. Chairman Rajya Sabha absent. Not a single Minister present. Can it get more atrocious than this?!"
"It is hereby stated that Vice President of India never attends such ceremonies organized in the Central Hall of Parliament as a matter of convention and it was misleading to suggest that Vice President Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu skipped the ceremony yesterday," the Rajya Sabha secretariat said.
"The said misleading reports have caused deep distress to the Vice President Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu. Vice President Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu, who was out of Delhi yesterday paid tributes to the former Prime Minister late Shri Jawaharlal Nehru and the same was reported in the media," the statement added.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has said that whenever he is in Delhi, he attends such functions. He has attended similar functions in 2019 and 2020. Yesterday, he was in Jaipur to attend an official function.
Jairam Ramesh's comment drew a response from Trinamool's Derek O'Brien. "Nothing surprises me anymore. This dispensation is destroying India's great institutions, including Parliament one day at a time," he tweeted.
The Congress had earlier called out the government after the photograph of Nehru was missing from the posters made for the huge Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" – the huge celebrations planned for the 75th anniversary of Independence Day.