Two days after an RTI disclosure revealed that President Pratibha Patil's foreign travel expenses (Rs 205 crore) have surpassed the record of all her predecessors, her office defended the visits in the context of "the rising global profile of India". It also called the comparisons between Patil and her predecessors' foreign visits as potentially misleading.
"The rising global profile of India on account of its dynamic economy, strategic importance, democratic governance and ancient civilisational links has led to enhanced engagements with countries across the world," the President’s Office said.
According to the RTI disclosure, Patil — the country's first woman President — went on 12 foreign trips covering 22 countries, since she assumed office in 2007.
While the RTI applications showed that the President was "mostly accompanied" by her family members on her foreign visits, President's office denied the allegation and said she followed the standard protocol of taking ministers, MPs, senior officials among others. "All presidents have been accompanied by family members and presidential guests besides media contingent. The composition of delegation during the time of President Patil has also been on the same pattern as followed in the past," said the release.
She stated that all her visits were approved by the Prime Minister's Office and the external affairs ministry.