Virendra Gupta’s India-Africa briefing hijacked by ‘Guptagate’

2013-05-09 16:24

Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta’s attempts to address the media about the India-Africa Festival were thwarted when the only issue journalists were interested in was the infamous landing of the Gupta plane at the Waterkloof air base.

Gupta, no relation of the Gupta brothers, refused to answer when asked at the briefing if the Indian festivalgoers would land at Waterkloof or whether he would apologise to South Africans for the plane that ferried about 200 guests to the Gupta wedding held at the Sun City resort in North West last week.

He said the reports about the high commission’s role were “speculative and somewhat misleading”.

The application was made by the embassy’s defence adviser to the “chief of defence foreign relations” in February because many high-profile Indian guests were expected to be on board the plane, the Indian high commissioner said.

“I must add that this is the standard channel of communication by the government of South African with regard to communication from all defence advisors in this country. Clearance and authorisation were received for the landing of the plane by the mission almost three weeks before the actual landing,” Gupta said.

He said India and South Africa had strong business relations, and that the embassy had cooperated with the department of international relations and cooperation on the Waterkloof issue.

“Being a diplomat does not allow me to speak. The information is available. I gave you my side, without getting into any argument,” he said to City Press after the briefing.

The festival involves collaboration between the Indian and African youth, and will take place in South Africa from May 13 to May 24.

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