Pranab Mukherjee phones LK Advani after Rashtrapati Bhavan seating upsets BJP

New Delhi: The President of India has phoned the BJP’s senior leaders after reports that they were upset with the seating arrangements at a reception organised at Rashtrapati Bhavan for Independence Day. Sources say President Pranab Mukherjee has told LK Advani, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj that his office is keen to ensure that “no incidents of unhappiness occur in the future.” Mr Mukherjee has also said that he will consult opposition leaders about the arrangements for future functions at his residence.

For the President’s “At home” at Rashtrapati Bhavan after the PM’s speech on Independence Day, senior BJP leaders including Mr Advani and Ms Swaraj were made to stand in an enclosure to the side. However, Congress president Sonia Gandhi was seated next to President Pranab Mukherjee and the Prime Minister.

At the swearing-in of Hamid Ansari as Vice-President earlier this month, Mr Advani was seated in the fourth row. After his party allegedly complained, Mr Advani was moved to the first row along with the PM and Mrs Gandhi.

Rashtrapati Bhavan officials say that at the reception yesterday, protocol was followed and that leaders of the opposition were accommodated in a special area along with cabinet ministers. They say President Mukherjee made it a point to welcome and greet them personally.
They say the seating chart that was used follows the patterns set in the last few years.

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