In a major protocol breach, President Pranab Mukherjee had to sit and wait for around 15-20 minutes in the plane prior to his departure to Russia as a senior bureaucrat arrived late for the flight.
According to the protocol, the President is the last to board the aircraft, usually accompanied by security and personal staff, after which the plane doors are shut and it starts to taxi.
Sources said a senior secretary-level official, who was part of the official delegation, arrived late by which time the President and other VIPs had already boarded the plane.
Mukherjee had left for Moscow on May 7 to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations of Victory Day, to commemorate Russia’s triumph in the Second World War.
“We have no comments on this issue,” Venu Rajamony, press secretary to the President told HT when contacted for comments on the protocol breach. Sources in the Rashtrapati Bhavan said they didn’t want to make it a big issue.
“Such a thing never happens. The doors were kept open despite the President and his staff having boarded the aircraft. We, the aircraft operator, just followed instructions given to us but the delay was much longer than usual” said an Air India source.