Pranab at Tirumala; Manmohan at Sriharikota to witness PSLV C-21 launch

For the first time in recent memory, both the President and the Prime Minister of India were in Andhra Pradesh on the same day. President Pranab Mukherjee reached Tirumala late on Saturday evening, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived at Sriharikota to witness the launch of the PSLV C-21.

Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy criss-crossed the region to be present for the official reception to the VVIPs at the two places. The President arrived at 9 p.m. here to a traditional reception and drove up to Tirumala, the abode of Lord Venkateswara. On his first visit here after assuming the high office, Mr. Mukherjee will offer prayers at the crack of dawn on Sunday. His itinerary includes the inauguration of ‘Nandakam’, the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams’ (TTD) multi-crore guest house, the Sri Venkateswara Vedapatasala at Dharmagiri, two km from here, and a darshan of Goddess Padmavathi at Tiruchanoor.

A little ahead of Mr. Mukherjee’s arrival, the Prime Minister reached the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in the neighbouring Nellore district to witness the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) 100 launch, of the PSLV C-21, in its 49 years of existence.

Mr. Narasimhan and Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy flew by chopper to the Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR) to receive Dr. Singh and quickly dashed to Tirupati to receive the President. Civil and security personnel were drafted from different agencies for protocol and security at Tirupati and Tirumala.

Among those who received him were Ministers G. Aruna Kumari (Mines and Geology), C. Ramachandraiah (Endowments), Congress MP Chinta Mohan and TTD chairman K. Bapi Raju.

Accompanied by his daughter-in-law Chitralekha, grandson Shaunak and others, Mr. Mukherjee reached the Padmavathi Guest House in Tirumala.

He will wind up his pilgrimage at 12.55 p.m. on Sunday when he will fly back to New Delhi.