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Vasundhara slip-up draws Cong fire

New Delhi, Dec. 4: The Congress today slammed the government for the “unprecedented lapse” on the part of its minister and official in not receiving Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila yesterday “with appropriate dignity and decorum”.

Strongly “disapproving” of the discourtesy shown to the Russian President, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Putin is not just the head of state of the second-most powerful nation in the world, but a most consistent and longstanding friend of India.

Saying that he was not just “nitpicking”, Singhvi said the minister-in-waiting and the senior official not being present on time to receive the head of state “is most unfortunate even if unintentional. We put our strong disapproval of the same on record. It is a serious lapse”.

The minister-in-waiting for Putin, Vasundhara Raje, and foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal — the senior-most official in the welcome party — had reached the airport after the Russian President’s plane had landed.

While Raje blamed “heavy traffic” for the delay, Sibal was quoted as saying that he was briefing the Prime Minister on Putin’s visit.

Raje today continued with her duties as minister-in-waiting to the visiting President, escorting Russia’s First Couple to Rajghat with veteran Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande.

Putin and Lyudmila placed wreath on Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi at Rajghat.

BJP praise for Putin

Welcoming Putin’s statement that Pakistan must stop cross-border infiltration and eliminate terrorist infrastructure in that country, the BJP today said the US should also think like him.

“The US and other European countries should also think like Putin. The US has a role in fighting global terrorism but it is supporting Pakistan, which has become an epicentre of terrorism,” BJP spokesperson Vijay Kumar Malhotra said.

Addressing his daily press conference, Malhotra criticised the Congress for its “double face” in Gujarat and in Delhi. He said Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Ambaji temple before kicking off election campaign had exposed this “double face”.

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