Opposition sees “grave disrespect” to President Murmu while conferring Bharat Ratna to Advani, lashes out at PM Modi

The Opposition leaders attacked the prime minister for not standing up while the award was being conferred to LK Advani.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 01, 2024 | 2:10 PMUpdatedApr 01, 2024 | 2:10 PM

President Droupadi Murmu

President Droupadi Murmu conferred Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, to BJP veteran and former deputy prime minister Advani at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday, 31 March.

The ceremony, typically conducted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, was held at Advani’s residence, due to his ailing health and limited mobility. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, among others attended the event.

In a photo from the ceremony that is now going viral, President Murmu was seen standing while PM Modi and Advani remained seated, triggering a wave of criticism directed at the two BJP leaders for disrespecting the president and disregarding the dignity of the presidential office.

The Opposition leaders attacked the prime minister for not standing up while the award was being conferred to Advani.

The Congress on Sunday said that Prime Minister Modi had committed “gravest disrespect” to President Droupadi Murmu by not standing up while she was presenting Bharat Ratna to BJP veteran L K Advani.

“The gravest disrespect to our Rashtrapati. The Prime Minister certainly should have been standing,” Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh wrote on social media platform X, sharing the pictures of President Murmu presenting Bharat Ratna to Advani at his residence.

In a statement, Congress said that such incidents show that the mentality of Modi and the BJP is “anti-women and anti-Dalit”.

“Once again PM Modi has deliberately insulted the tribal woman President. This is not the first time — when the new Parliament was inaugurated, she was not invited and the President was not seen even in the Pran Pratistha programme of Ram Temple,” the party said.

Congress leader Supriya Shrinate said in a post on X: “The woman standing in the picture is the first citizen of this country, Her Excellency the President, Mrs. Draupadi Murmu. Among the people sitting is veteran Advani ji, who was given Bharat Ratna at home.”

“The second Prime Minister is Narendra Modi. This is not only an insult to the first tribal woman President, it is also against common etiquette. Is this the respect of the tribal, deprived and exploited society? Shame! The BJP, which openly pretends to respect women, its rude leaders, women ministers, ill-mannered workers – are they not hurt at all by this insult to a woman President?” she further wrote.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav also condemned the disrespectful treatment of President Murmu by PM Modi and alleged that the BJP has no faith in the Constitution.

“Earlier also we have witnessed Droupadi Murmu walking behind PM Narendra Modi, they don’t believe in the Constitution and they only want to implement the agenda of RSS in the country,” he said.

Calling it casteist and gender discriminatory, DMK MP Kanimozhi slammed the incident.

“Deeply dismayed by the blatant disrespect shown towards our @RashtrapatiBhvn. This image serves as a stark evidence of how caste and gender discrimination persist, even towards the constitutional head of our nation, under BJP rule,” she wrote on X.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi and Trinamool Congress’ MP  Jawhar Sircar also shared photographs of the incident on their X accounts, condemning it.

“The lady standing is the President of India while the PM of India is seated,” she wrote on X.

“If this widely-circulated photo is true — then it speaks of PM’s very low culture — to make the President of India stand — while he sits and laughs. Govt must clarify !,” Sircar said in his post on X.

However, social media users and supporters of the BJP have refuted these claims, labelling the photographs as misleading and asserting that a specific protocol must be adhered to during the award ceremony.

According to them, the prime minister was only following the protocol of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Only the President, her security guards, and the award recipient are permitted to stand, while others are required to remain seated.

As of 2024, Advani is the only living recipient of the award. Former Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh, former Bihar Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur, and renowned agrarian economist MS Swaminathan, were also posthumously conferred with the Bharat Ratna.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)