New Delhi: Facing flak over his tweets after attending the Pakistan Day function, Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (retd) V.K. Singh on Tuesday said the messages were directed at sections of the media which misinterpreted his presence at the event, and refuted speculation that he had offered to resign.
V.K. Singh addressed a late evening press conference on Tuesday following the controversy over his tweets and said he was a "loyal member" of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Pakistan's High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Tuesday again met Kashmiri separatist leaders, the third time in three days.
V.K. Singh, a former army chief, had on Monday evening attended the Pakistan Day function, which was also attended by separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and Yasin Malik.
While there were questions over the government sending a former army chief as its representative for the function, V.K. Singh's tweets created a controversy.
V.K. Singh had tweeted about "duty" and "disgust" after the event on Monday night. His messages on the social media were seen in some sections of the media as a signal of his sense of unease at attending the event.
Under the hashtag "Duty", he posted three tweets: "A job or service allocated", "The force that binds one morally or legally to one's obligations", "A task or action that a person is bound to perform for moral or legal reasons".
Under "Disgust", the minister wrote: "To offend the moral sense, principles, or taste of", and "To sicken or fill with loathing".
Later, as the media started reporting about the tweets, he again posted: "'Disgust'ed to see how certain sections of the media are twisting this issue."
Congress leader Manish Tewari said on Tuesday that the minister should resign, noting that leaders have in the past refused to attend Pakistani events.
"If Mr#duty#Disgust is so disgusted with double standards of his government on Pakistan he should quit? Other ministers in the past have refused to attend Pakistan events!" Tewari tweeted.
At his press conference, V.K. Singh said he was disappointed that sections of the media had attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government.
He said that he had commanded a force of 13 lakh personnel and knows many things which others may not know.
"I am loyal member of the party. Therefore, there should be no doubt how I stand on government policies," he said.
He said that attending national day functions of embassies and high commissions located in Delhi were part of duties of the minister of state for external affairs.
V.K. Singh said every minister has done it in the past and there was nothing new in it.
"The only difference was of optics," he said, adding that some people saw that a former army chief was attending the event, but forgot that he was also a minister in the government.
V.K. Singh said that while his party and the government understood his position fully, a section of the media was commenting on "wrong issues".
He said following the "misinterpretation" in the media, he tweeted about the dictionary meaning of "duty" and "disgust".
He said the tweets under the hashtag 'disgust' were "definitely" for "the sections of the media who questioned my government".
"It was also said that it will impact the morale (of the armed forces). I understand jawans better," he said.
"I am fully committed to my party, government, specially the prime minister," he said.
"I stand in unison with my party in working for a better India," he added.
Answering queries, V.K. Singh said he was asked to go for the Pakistan Day function.
Congress leaders on Tuesday attacked the government following the tweets.
Party MP Shashi Tharoor in a column on the NDTV news website wrote: "The damage done by the tweets has to be seen in the context of what the Modi government seems to be doing on the Indo-Pak front."
"It has stretched out a conciliatory hand, sent the foreign secretary to Islamabad, downplayed the terrorist attacks a few days ago in Jammu and Kashmir, and the prime minister used the occasion of Pakistan's National Day yesterday (Monday) to declare his new-found faith in peace and dialogue with our most hostile neighbour," Tharoor wrote.