President’s son conducts personal business on official tour(Lead)

April 30th, 2008 - 6:46 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil
By Liz Mathew
New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil’s son Rajendra Singh Shekhawat, who accompanied her on her trip to Latin America in April, went away briefly to the US to attend to personal business, informed sources said. Shekhawat, according to people in the know, flew to Miami in the wee hours of April 17.

According to informed sources, many in Mexico, the second halt in the president’s three-nation tour, were taken by surprise by Shekhawat’s trip to the US, where he is believed to have discussed 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 president’s family runs a chain of schools and colleges in their home district of Jalgaon in Maharashtra and in Mumbai.

Shekhawat’s absence was noticed at 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.

Indian external affairs ministry officials admitted that his visit to the US was a breach of protocol because the president’s son was considered a VVIP in the delegation.

According to diplomatic sources, the Indian missions in the US were roped in for his trip. The embassy in Washington sent an officer to Miami to receive the VVIP.

Shekhawat spent only a day in Miami where he held his discussions at his hotel.

Shekhawat was also missing from the president’s team when it visited the Teotihuacan Pyramids in Mexico April 18.

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.

President Patil visited Brazil, Mexico and Chile from April 12 to 23. It was her first foreign trip since she became the head of state last year.

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