Whose orders run during the Prime Minister’s tours, especially when he travels abroad? The Chief Protocol Office (CPO) generally manages the show and decides when and where, and who will meet the Prime Minister. The CPO also decides the sitting arrangements, keeping in mind the protocol at public functions abroad. There are small issues which cause some sparks sometimes, especially regarding sitting arrangements within the aircraft. Whoever is travelling with the Prime Minister desires a VVIP seat. In April, when the Prime Minister was travelling to Germany, one of the senior protocol officers changed the sitting arrangements and, due to the change, the Special Protection Group (SPG) which manages the security of the Prime Minister, was shifted to the economy class. The senior IPS officer of the SPG came to know of the changed seating arrangement and said it was not acceptable. There was a virtual fight between the protocol officer and the SPG officer during the tour in the presence of the Indian Ambassador to Germany, Vijay Gokhale. Finally, the SPG prevailed as onboard security within the aircraft was under their purview. Gokhale pacified both officers and the SPG’s suggestion was followed: the SPG group sat just behind the VVIPs.
VOL. 9, ISSUE 7 | OCT, 2015