Austerity? Hundred relatives part of Prez’s tour

By Sanchit on Saturday, October 03, 2009

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shame patil At a time when the government is practicing austerity, eyebrows have been raised on the composition of President Pratibha Patil’s ongoing entourage during her visit to Saurashtra. According to media reports, more than 100 persons are part of the entourage and this has started exerting strain on the Gujarat government.

The State Government is in a bind and does not know who will foot the bill for avalanche of relatives from Maharashtra who have come in and will stay on till Sunday.

Almost all the Government guest houses and all other suitable accommodation are full and overflowing with the VVIPs, including many from the Patil clan. The five day visit -- the longest that any President has stayed in Gujarat -- includes visits to Somnath, Porbandar, Gir and Dwarka.The President's itinerary includes visits to temples, enjoying wildlife and paying obeisance at places linked to Mahatma Gandhi.

Media reports said that the Rashtrapati Bhavan had informed the Gujarat government that, 47 persons were to land in Ahmedabad on September 30. This apart, 45 persons were to join her from Jalgaon and another 25 persons from Bhusaval. Most of them travelled by train to join the President. Air-conditioned buses and cars were booked locally for them to be taken to different places.

The media quoted an official as saying: "There is lack of clarity who will pay for their arrangement. The state protocol department was told to make arrangements, which it did promptly. So far, everything is running on credit. The President's officials are not telling us whether they will be paying for private individuals."

But the Gujarat government has refrained from any comments keeping the high office of the President in mind. Chief Minister Narendra Modi accompanied the President for most of the visit. An official release said it was Gujarat's honour that the President was spending five days in the state.