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 her predecessors.
It said that among her predecessors, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam had visited 17 countries, K R Narayanan (13), R Venkataraman (21) and V V 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.