New Delhi undermined protocol by sending mid-rung officials of the External Affairs Ministry to receive Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai at the Indira Gandhi International Airport Thursday afternoon, political leaders said.

Rajan Bhattarai, a UML leader and foreign affairs advisor of the then Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, said protocol was grossly undermined by the Indian side in PM Bhattarai’s reception.

“Nepali Prime Ministers in the last two official visits were received by state ministers,” Bhattarai said in an Avenues TV talk show, “Before that, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself had gone to the airport to receive the then Nepal Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.”

“We should think whether we are being slighted because of our own behavior,” he said, “On the contrary, there are instances of Nepal’s former Prime Ministers staying in queues to meet when a minister of a foreign country was here.”

Maoist spokesperson Dina Nath Sharma said his party had not formally discussed the protocol issue regarding Bhattarai’s ongoing Delhi visit, but he indirectly expressed dissatisfaction at the low-key reception.

He said the government and the concerned officials should be cautious about respectful treatment during diplomatic exchanges.

Bhattarai was received by Chief of Protocol at the Indian External Affairs Ministry Ruchira Khamboj and Indian ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad when the PM’s delegation landed at the airport in New Delhi Thursday afternoon.

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