Sticking firmly to his roots, Bharatiya Janata Party's member of parliament Virendra Singh Mast today refused a visa by the US Embassy when he asked to remove his 'pagdi' or headgear for the visa documentation.
A Rajput from Uttar Pradesh, Mast returned to his constituency Bhadohi after turning down the US visa.
'Mast', a well known agriculturist by profession, who is always seen in a traditional safron pagdi, was invited by the US Embassy to visit the country and give a lecture on Indian agriculture techniques.
"The US Embassy had invited me to the US to attend a function on farmers, where I was asked to give a lecture on Indian agriculture techniques," Mast told IANS.
"When I went there on Wednesday for the visa documentation, the officials asked me to remove my pagdi to take my photograph. I refused and turned down the visa. I told them that I had been invited by the US and any invitation is not given on conditions," he added.
"How can I remove my pagdi," Mast said, adding, "It is my identity. It is my pride. Beside being an Indian and a farmer, I am also a Kshatriya. How can I remove my pagdi. I can't compromise with my pride."
Mast told IANS that it was the US Embassy which had contacted him and requested him to visit the US for giving the lecture.
"I did not ask for the invitation. In fact, they invited me. Some US Embassy officials contacted me before the monsoon session of parliament. They wanted to know about the Indian agriculture techniques and I briefed them about it. I was also interviewed by them," the MP said.
"They were impressed and they requested me to visit the US to give a lecture. But I politely refused as the monsoon session was to begin. They said they will be happy if I could agree to visit after the session ends," he said.
Mast said that after the end of the monsoon session, the US Embassy officials again contacted him and he then agreed to their proposal.
Mast said he will raise the matter with the External Affairs Ministry and also in parliament.
(With IANS inputs)