Irked by reports that suggested that the state’s protocol plan for him was unwarranted, President Patibha Patil’s husband Dr Devisinh Shekhawat said on Tuesday that he wouldn’t mind if the VIP treatment was withdrawn.
Shekhawat, on a week-long visit to Maharashtra, told the Hindustan Times he was okay with the government amending the protocol, adding: “I told Rashtrapati Bhavan officials that I don’t need VIP treatment or security, but they went ahead with the protocol measures anyway.” Shekhawat said he “didn’t even ask for police protection because I have been without it for years. I asked the police to go, but they wouldn’t budge. They said they had their orders.”
The former Congress minister and MLA from Amravati said he was puzzled initially by the measures, but reasoned it happened because the authorities were yet to finalise protocol for the President’s husband. “We have a woman President for the first time; maybe that was the officials’ dilemma. Everything will be clear once the home ministry finalises the protocol.”
Shekhawat is presently staying with his son in Mumbai and will visit Amravati before leaving for New Delhi on August 14 via Nagpur.
Talks with Sena chief
Shekhawat said his meeting on Monday with Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was “pleasant”. “I wanted to thank him for supporting Pratibha. Our families share a long-standing relationship,” he said. He said Thackeray was in a jovial mood and “did not talk politics. We simply relived old memories.” Thackeray and his father, Prabhodhankar, were friendly with Patil's father, a well-known politician from Jalgaon.
‘I will ask CM for help’
Shekhawat, president of the government-aided schools’ apex body, the Maharashtra Rajya Shikshan Sanstha Mahamandal, said he would lead a delegation to meet Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Wednesday. “Over 50,000 government-aided schools and colleges are facing severe problems,” he said. “Deshmukh has agreed to help us. The association threatened a strike last April and I told Deshmukh that it wouldn't look good if I took to the streets in protest,” he said.