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SM Krishna extended official visit to watch Wimbledon

But the minister brazened it out, claiming that he “thinks” he bore the expenses for the two extra days.

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DNA Web Team

Updated: Nov 21, 2013, 01:44 PM IST

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External Affairs S M Krishna on Monday found himself in a controversy over his extended stay in London to watch tennis at Wimbledon, but maintained the expenditure incurred during those two days were paid out of his own pocket.

The minister had gone to the United Kingdom on June 29 and had official talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague till Thursday. But Krishna, who was putting up in the posh Bentley Hotel, stayed back and watched the Wimbledon men's singles semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on July 1.
 
As reports emerged that his extended stay was at the cost of taxpayers' money, Krishna told reporters that he was an avid tennis fan "but the fact is that two days, the Indian exchequer paid for my stay in London but for the subsequent two days, I think it was borne out of my own pocket. I think that should straighten the record."
 
The minister also pointed out that he was "the life-long president of the All Indian Lawn Tennis Association and I am also the President of the Karnataka Tennis Association. So, it is nothing unusual for a visiting dignitary or a visiting foreign minister to peep into Wimbledon and take a feel of it.
 
"I am myself a tennis player and I love watching tennis. I have been watching tennis since the days of Bjorn Borg in 1981. That was the first time I went to Wimbledon. So, there is nothing new."
 
Krishna also noted that his recent visit itself came out of a pull-aside in Rome where Hague invited him to come when Wimbledon was being played in London.
 
Asked if the bills have been paid or were being paid, the minister said, "It has already been paid".
 
Immediately after his appointment as minister, Krishna was embroiled in controversy for staying in a five-star hotel for months, resulting in intervention by senior Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who asked him to move out of the hotel in view of the austerity drive announced by the government then.
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