Change of protocol at Pratibha's first 'at home'
Pratibha Patil hosts her first "at home" function, which witness protocol being changed as all Cabinet ministers are seated away from the presidential enclosure.india Updated: Aug 15, 2007 23:36 IST
President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday hosted her first "at home" function in Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of Independence Day, which saw protocol being changed as all Cabinet ministers were seated away from the presidential enclosure.
On a humid afternoon, the sprawling Mughal Garden of the presidential palace was packed with politicians, police and army top brass, members of the diplomatic corps and eminent persons from various walks of life.
Vice President Mohammed Hameed Ansari and his wife, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, Patil's husband Devisingh Shekhawat and Vimla Sharma, the wife of late President SD Sharma sat within the VVIP enclosure.
Under the new protocol norms, all union ministers, including External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad were in a separate enclosure. The change left some of them fuming.
Law Minister Hans Raj Bhardawaj and Minister of State for Personnel Suresh Pachuri were absent from the event, held hours after news came in of India's failure to get Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi extradited from Argentina in connection with the Bofors scam.
Immediately after the national anthem was played, Patil met the ministers and people. She also met the country's first woman IPS lady officer Kiran Bedi, who was part of the gathering.
Leader of Opposition and senior BJP leader LK Advani too did not attend the event.