President’s son conducts personal business on official tour

April 30th, 2008 - 2:13 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, Apr 30 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil’s son Rajendra Singh Shekhawat, who accompanied his mother on her recent trip to Latin America, “disappeared” for a day to conduct personal business in the US, keeping his Mexican hosts in the dark. Shekhawat, according to people in the know, flew to Miami in the wee hours of April 17.

According to these sources, authorities in Mexico, the second halt in the president’s three-nation tour, had not been informed about Shekhawat’s trip to the US, where he is believed to have held some discussions on a business tie-up for his family-run educational institutions.

Queried by IANS, Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson Archana Datta said: “There was a long pending invitation from the University of Florida for academic purpose. Since Shekhawat was in Mexico, he took the opportunity to visit the university.

“He bore the expenses for his visit,” the official added.

The president’s family runs a chain of schools and colleges in their home district of Jalgaon in Maharashtra and Mumbai.

Shekhawat was missing from the banquet hosted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon at Castilo de Chapultepec. According to those who attended the banquet, a seat was reserved for Shekhawat. External affairs ministry officials admitted his “disappearance” was a “serious breach of protocol” as the president’s son also was considered as a VVIP in the delegation.

The Indian embassy in Washington had specially sent an officer to Miami to receive the VVIP. Shekhawat spent only a day in Miami where he held business discussions in the hotel itself.

He was missing from the president’s team when it visited the Teotihuacan Pyramids in Mexico. But he was present at the lunch hosted by Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez Marquez at his palace in Guadalajara on April 19.

Besides her son, the president was accompanied by her husband Devisingh Ram Singh Shekhawat.

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