External Affairs Minister S M Krishna making the inaugural speech at the 35th Anniversary Summit of the US India Business Council on “India-US Partnership Shaping the future through Innovation” in Washington DC.
SM Krishna’s faux pas at a UN Security Council meeting has embarrassed the government and left the Congress red-faced, but the external affairs minister merely described it as “unfortunate”.
Krishna read the Portuguese foreign minister’s speech for three minutes before his officials made him realise his error.
"Unfortunately, it happened," he said. "There was nothing wrong in it. There were so many papers spread in front of me so by mistake the wrong speech was taken out."
His party, however, has reacted strongly. Congress spokesman Satyavrat Chaturvedi said: "The ministry is supposed to be vigilant enough. This ultimately reflects on the Government of India… especially when we are seeking to become a permanent member of the Security Council."
Senior leader ML Fotedar urged the PM and party chief to drop him from the Cabinet. Indira Gandhi would have sacked him, said another.
Those who have been tracking Krishna are not surprised by his casual approach. "He has never been serious…he has always been into an image-making exercise," said one leader.
"…he went on for three minutes. That means he had not even gone through ... his own speech," said another.
But there are many who are wondering what the fuss is about when other public figures have committed such gaffes.
US President Barack Obama began reading the speech of the Irish PM at the UN in 2009 after the teleprompter mixed up their speeches.
Former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy said, “It is a mistake which even Obama has made… It can happen. It is not an embarrassment for the country.”