Pranab, still an Ambassador of austerity
Looks like the Ambassador has followed Pranab Mukherjee to the Rashtrapati Bhawan (RB). But as of now, the reunion of the new President and his old favourite is a stretch limo away. Saubhadra Chatterji reports.
Looks like the Ambassador has followed Pranab Mukherjee to the Rashtrapati Bhawan (RB). But as of now, the reunion of the new President and his old favourite is a stretch limo away.
The President of India's convoy typically comprises a limousine, a backup Mercedes-Benz W140 and an ambulance, among other vehicles.
But after the Rs. 6-crore Merc developed a mysterious technical snag four months ago — engineers from the Mercedes Benz factory in Stuttgart could not fix the problem — RB officials replaced it with the Rs. 10-lakh bullet-proof car.
"It has a peculiar problem. The engine suddenly stops working, stranding the car mid journey," said an RB source.
In the circumstances, the Ambassador is the backup of the backup.
"It meets all security requirements. There is no compromise on the issue of safety and security of the President," Venu Rajamani, press secretary to the President, told HT.
Mukherjee's love of the Ambassador is legendary.
Long after it ceased to be the government servant's only choice and was replaced by sedans, Mukherjee continued to use it as his chosen vehicle. When his son gifted him a Ford Ikon in 2004, he let his office staff use it and stuck to the Ambassador.
Incidentally, the ambulance in the convoy is also a backup — hired from the Special Protection Group (SPG). The original ambulance broke down during Pratibha Patil's tenure.