Ansari office asks: President gets guard of honour at airport, why not VP
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The Ministry of Civil Aviation is in a spot over a request from the office of Vice President Hamid Ansari. It has been asked to make an exception and accord a ceremonial guard of honour to the Vice President at the airport itself while on a visit to a state capital.
Only the President is entitled to a guard of honour at domestic airports. Ministry officials said they were going by the Blue Book and it will not be an easy decision to extend the airport protocol.
The request was made on May 3 by the office of the Vice President in a letter to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. On July 23, the BCAS sought directions from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
BCAS guidelines ban ceremonies or receptions on the air side of the airport since it is construed a safety concern and hampers routine airport operations. But on December 12, 2009, a circular was issued which made an exception for the President who was permitted a ceremonial guard of honour at the airport itself during a visit to any state capital.
Ansari's office has quoted the same "exception'' in a carefully-drafted letter: "It has been observed that an exception has been made in case of President of India vide BCAS order dated 29/12/2009. However, it is felt appropriate that order regarding extension of courtesy to Vice President at the airport may be conveyed to all concerned.''
When comments were sought from the office of the Vice President, an official who did not wish to be named confirmed that a letter had been sent to BCAS. "We are not demanding it. The Vice President generally gets a ceremonial salute at the first point of alighting, that is at the airport itself. We just want authorities concerned to be informed about it and issue relevant instructions."