New Delhi: Amidst a controversy over an
expenditure of Rs 205 crore on President Pratibha Patil`s
foreign trips, Rashtrapati Bhavan today sought to defend such
visits abroad on the ground that these were "necessary" to
deepen bilateral cooperation.
A two-page statement by President`s Officer on Special
Duty Archana Datta also explained that the visits were
undertaken after careful appraisal and recommendation by the
Prime Minister`s Office and Ministry of External Affairs.
Defending the size of the delegation that have
accompanied Patil on 12 trips covering 22 countries, the
statement said that the delegation comprised ministers, MPs,
senior officials besides "supporting" and security staff. All
Presidents have been accompanied by family members and
Presidential guests besides media contingent.
The statement also described as "potentially misleading"
comparison of foreign visits undertaken by the President with
It said that among her predecessors, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
had visited 17 countries, K R Narayanan (13), R Venkataraman
(21) and VV Giri visited 22 countries.
However, in an RTI reply from Rashtrapati Bhavan sent by
the then Central Public Information Officer Faiz Ahmed Kidwai
on February 21, 2011, Narayanan`s visits were shown only to 10
countries and not 13 as claimed in the statement today.