The head honchos of Maharashtra government played perfect hosts to US President Barack Obama, forgetting all about the controversy that had erupted before his arrival.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal did not boycott any functions and both presented Obama books. As he received Obama and First Lady Michelle at the airport on Saturday, Chavan presented the US President a coffee table book on Maharashtra, titled ‘Maharashtra.’
“I told him that Mumbai and the Maharashtra government were happy to receive him as guests, to which Obama said he was keen to see the city,” said Chavan.
Though Chavan did not attend the function at Taj, where Obama paid homage to 26/11 victims, due to logistical problems, Bhujbal and chief secretary J P Dange represented the state government.
Bhujbal presented ‘Slavery’, an English translation of a book written by social reformer Jyotiba Phule, to the US President. “I gifted President Obama the book and told him that Phule was fighting for backward classes in India. He wrote the book 137 years ago and dedicated it to movement against slavery in the United States.”
According to Bhujbal, Obama responded saying it was a ‘great gift’.
On Sunday evening, Chavan and protocol minister Suresh Shetty were present at the airport as Obama left the city. Chavan also took an opportunity to get a photo-op with Obama before the latter boarded his plane, Air Force One.
A day before the President's arrival, the Maharashtra government had expressed unhappiness over US authorities letter asking Chavan and Bhujbal to submit their identity proofs. However, the duo decided not to boycott the functions after US Consul General Paul Folmsbee apologised on Friday.