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The BJP on Friday hit back at the Congress over the issue of sitting position of Rahul Gandhi during the Republic Day parade, saying in the past its chiefs were not even given seats in the VIP enclosure. Congress President Gandhi on Friday attended the annual event and took the designated seat in the sixth row, prompting an angry reaction from the Opposition party which accused the ruling BJP government of setting aside tradition and indulging in "cheap politics". "Where did Rajnath Singh ji and Nitin Gadkari ji sit as BJP chiefs at Republic Day events during the Congress-led UPA government," BJP National Spokesperson Anil Baluni said. He said that BJP leaders were not given seats in the VIP area during the Congress-era. ALSO READ: Republic Day 2018: India showcases military might before 10 Asean leaders "But unlike the Congress, the BJP does not stoop so low and believes in a healthy democracy," Baluni said. Gandhi was seated in the sixth row, along with Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad. "I am not bothered about where I am sitting," he told a news channel, also dismissing as "cheap publicity" suggestions that he should buy a public ticket to make a point. Last year, Sonia Gandhi was assigned a seat in the front row and was seen sitting along with BJP president Amit Shah.
The BJP president was seated in the front row in the function on Friday. Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said the Modi government's "cheap politics" was at display when it broke tradition and denied Gandhi a front-row seat. Government sources said that as per the protocol, the Leader of Opposition is accorded a seat in the seventh row.