There were some awkward moments before the departure of President Pratibha Patil from Beijing to the central Chinese city of Loyang on Saturday when a member of her delegation, RJD MP Raghuvansh Prasad, did not turn up at the airport here on time, making her wait for nearly 20 minutes.

Though the scheduled departure was slated for 9 am local time, the President arrived at the airport at 8.50 am for the last farewell formalities.

However, even after she boarded the plane, it could not take off as Prasad had not arrived from his hotel.

Ms. Patil had to wait for nearly 20 minutes before her plane, a chartered from China Eastern Airlines, could depart even as there were nearly eight other flights waiting for the VVIP plane to take off.

According to protocol, President is the last one to board a flight.

Ms. Patil, who is in China on a six-day visit, is visiting Loyang to inaugurate the famous White Horse Buddhist temple there.

Among the members of her delegation are Minister of State for Food Processing Subodh Kant Sahay and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

Ms. Patil is the first Indian Head of State to visit China in a decade.

Later, when asked at Loyang as to why he got delayed in reaching the Beijing airport, Mr. Prasad said he faced difficulty in operating the lift of the hotel he was staying in.

The RJD MP said he could not figure out how to operate the lift using keys of his room.

It was just a matter of a minute by which he got delayed, Mr. Prasad claimed.

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