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Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and US President Barack Obama during Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath in New Delhi, on Jan 26, 2015.IANS

Responding to attacks on social media that he breached protocol by not saluting the tricolour when the national anthem was being played during the Republic Day celebrations, Vice-President Hamid Ansari has said that protocol obligates only the President to salute. 

A statement issued by his office said, "During the Republic Day Parade, the President of India, as Supreme Commander, takes the salute. As per protocol, the vice-president is required to stand in attention."

Hindustan Times report quoted Gurdeep Singh Sappal, officer on special duty to the Vice President and CEO and editor-in-chief of Rajya Sabha TV, as saying that "protocol clearly states that the V-P isn't supposed to salute the flag when the president is present."

Various social networking sites were abuzz with the photograph of  Hamid Ansari standing in attention during the rendition of the national anthem while Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, and President Pranab Mukherjee were seen saluting the tricolour.

The photograph went viral and users active on social networking sites started attacking Ansari for breaking protocol by not respecting the tricolour while the national anthem was being played.