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Rediff.com  » Business » President Ram Nath Kovind won't attend NSE's silver jubilee celebrations

President Ram Nath Kovind won't attend NSE's silver jubilee celebrations

August 07, 2018 15:33 IST

Sources at the NSE as well as the President’s office rejected media reports that Kovind’s pulling out of the event had to do with reasons other than his packed itinerary this week.

President Ram Nath Kovind has pulled out of Wednesday’s launch of the silver jubilee celebrations of the National Stock Exchange (NSE).

The President’s office has attributed his inability to attend the event on his busy schedule this week, including the need for him to devote time to prepare his customary Independence Day eve address to the nation on August 14.

 

Sources at the NSE as well as the President’s office rejected media reports that Kovind’s pulling out of the event had to do with reasons other than his packed itinerary this week.

President Kovind’s Press Secretary Ashok Malik said unforeseen additions to his itinerary for this week, which weren’t known when he had given his tentative assent last month to attend the NSE event, led to his pulling out of Wednesday's event.

The NSE said the event was on schedule, and maintained the President cannot attend because of his “busy schedule”.

It said former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Union Cabinet ministers are set to attend Wednesday’s celebrations in New Delhi.

“The President gave alternative dates. Logistically it would have been challenging to reschedule an event of this magnitude,” said an exchange source.

“Over 500 invitations have been sent for the event. Most of the guests are from Mumbai and have already booked their travel and hotel accommodation.

"As a result, it would have been difficult to change the dates last minute,” the NSE source added.

The NSE had dispatched invites of the event in the third week of July.

The invite from NSE chairman Ashok Chawla and its managing director and chief executive officer Vikram Limaye had stated that the silver jubilee celebrations will be launched by President Kovind on Wednesday.

Subsequently, the President’s office sent a letter of regret to the NSE last week.

“It is normal practice that the President’s office conveys to organisers of any event that his participation is under active consideration.

"The office then sends out a final confirmation or regret, depending on the President’s itinerary, some days before the event,” Rashtrapati Bhavan sources said.

The President on Monday was in Kerala, and his visit to southern India had to be extended as he also visited ailing Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M Karunanidhi at a hospital in Chennai.

The President is also scheduled to visit Uttar Pradesh on Friday, a visit that was arranged after the NSE had sent out the invite.

Exchange officials denied the turn of events had anything to do with NSE chairman Chawla.

The NSE chairman is chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Aircel-Maxis case.

Chawla retired as the finance secretary in 2011, and is one of the 12 individuals and six firms named in the Aircel-Maxis charge sheet filed last month.

The list also includes former finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti.

The CBI has two months to prosecute the charge-sheeted people, and Chawla can be prosecuted only if the Modi government permits it under the new provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

After retiring as finance secretary, the Congress-led UPA  government had appointed Chawla the chairman of the Competition Commission of India.

The former IAS officer joined the NSE board in May 2016 and his term as chairman ends in March 2019.

The NSE said that the President “in his greetings sent to NSE has complimented its pivotal role in providing a stable, transparent and globally trusted market platform” and “wished the silver jubilee celebrations every success.”

Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Archis Mohan in New Delhi
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