President Pratibha Patil was kept waiting a full 20 minutes at the Beijing airport, delaying her flight to Luoyang, on Saturday because a member of her entourage had a situation.
Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Raghuvansh Prasad missed the presidential cavalcade and was late boarding the special flight because he had trouble handling the electronic key to the executive floor and his room at the luxury hotel where he was staying.
The former minister, however, blamed official mismanagement, saying he was not informed about the boarding time. “There was confusion and mismanagement. That is why I got delayed and could not be a part of the cavalcade taking the president to Beijing airport,” Prasad said. But he did admit having trouble with his key: “I couldn’t handle the electronic key to the lift and room.”
Official sources said Patil and her official delegation were staying at the Raffles Beijing Hotel, where access to restricted VIP floors is only with an electronic key. Patil was to take the flight at 9 am but was delayed by 20 minutes. Since the special flight could not take off on time, other flights at the busy airport were also delayed, officials said.
The President’s office said that the delay did not affect the overall programme and caused no embarrassment.
“The president reached Luyong at 10.30 a.m. as scheduled. It has caused us no embarrassment,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.
Patil is on a six-day visit to China.
In Luoyang, President Patil dedicated an Indian-style Buddhist temple, built with Indian financial assistance and knowhow, to the Chinese people.