New Delhi: The President`s office has
denied reports of seating changes involving Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh made during the Commonwealth Games opening
ceremony by one of its officials to accommodate Devisingh
Shekhawat, the spouse of the President, next to her.
The President`s Secretariat has said "No" in response
to an RTI application seeking to know "Is it true that
original agreed seating arrangement during opening ceremony of
CWG 2010 was changed at last moment at the behest of staff of
honourable President of India to accommodate Devisingh
Shekhawat against protocol?"
It also said "No" to another question whether
Shekhawat was "accommodated in the royal box during the
opening ceremony of CWG 2010 against protocol and/or agreed
According to the office, it has "seen" the media
reports which said that a senior official of the President`s
Secretariat tapped Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to shift to
next seat in order to accommodate Shekhawat next to the
When a similar question, whether any cognisance of the
news reports was taken, was posed before the Prime Minister`s
Office, it said, "No, the officials were present there."
The RTI application was filed by activist S C Agrawal.
After media reports appeared, sources in the PMO had
confirmed that displeasure over the issue was "conveyed" to
the Rashtrapati Bhavan but the President`s Secretariat refuted
receiving any such communication.
The incident took place on October three during the
opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games when President`s
Secretary Christy Fernandez allegedly tapped Singh on his
shoulder and asked him to change his seat from the one
earmarked under protocol for Singh next to the President.
Fernandez reportedly accommodated Shekhawat who
actually sat on the seat earmarked for Pratibha Patil which
led to changes in the seating arrangement.
Security officials had also raised their concern over
the last-minute unwarranted changes which had led to a
different seat for Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who is
also an SPG protectee.