President's son denies breaking protocol
President Pratibha Patil's son Rajendra Singh Shekhawat on Thursday denied breaking protocol by flying to Miami briefly on a personal trip from Mexico while accompanying his mother to the Latin American country.
"It was ok to go around on my own," Shekhawat told the Times Now TV channel. His clarification followed media reports which said that his absence at a banquet hosted by the Mexican president had embarrassed the hosts.
The president's son said he was merely a "visitor" to Mexico and the other two countries his mother visited -- Brazil and Chile.
"I went to some of the programmes. I was a visitor, a spectator there. I had nothing to discuss with them, they had nothing to discuss with me, because I am not a decision maker," he said. "What is wrong in going around the place if you feel like?"
External affairs ministry officials said Shekhawat's going away to the US to attend to personal work was not a breach of protocol. "It's more a matter of propriety and personal integrity. But it's not a breach of protocol," a ministry official told IANS.
Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson Archana Datta told IANS: "There was a long pending invitation from the University of Florida (for Shekhawat). Since Shekhawat was in Mexico, he took the opportunity to visit the university. He bore the expenses for his visit."
The president's family runs a chain of schools and colleges in their home district of Jalgaon in Maharashtra and in Mumbai.