Pacified Chavan welcomes Obama, gifts him book
Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan was among a host of politicians, White House officials and media persons who were at the Mumbai airport to receive US President Barack Obama as he arrived on Saturday on a four-day state visit to India, being billed as historic for bilateral ties. Stavan Desai reports.mumbai Updated: Nov 07, 2010 00:18 IST
Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan was among a host of politicians, White House officials and media persons who were at the Mumbai airport to receive US President Barack Obama as he arrived on Saturday on a four-day state visit to India, being billed as historic for bilateral ties.
Chavan and other senior ministers in the state government had earlier decided to boycott programmes during Obama's visit after the US Consulate in Mumbai had sought identification proofs from them for attending the functions.
The ministers decided to participate in the functions after the consulate apologised to Chavan and deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal.
The president's personal airplane, Air Force One, touched down at the Mumbai airport at 12.46 pm.
Besides Chavan, the president and his wife, Michelle, were received by Maharashtra's minister for higher education and protocol Suresh Shetty; Union minister for minority and corporate affairs Salman Khurshid and his wife Louise, and Timothy Roemer, US ambassador to India, and his wife Sally. Khurshid is also Obama's minister-in-waiting.
Chavan gifted Obama a coffee table book on Maharashtra's history titled Maharashtra Darshan. "We are happy to receive you at Mumbai, the financial capital of India," Chavan said.
From the airport, the US first couple flew to INS Shikra, Indian Navy's helibase at Colaba, on Marine One, a specially designed Whitehawk combat helicopter of US Marine's HMX-1 squadron.
Obama was then taken to the iconic Taj Hotel where he will be staying. The Taj was one of the targets of a terrorist attack that shook the city on November 26, 2008, leaving 166 dead.
The president paid homage to victims of the 26/11 terror attacks at a function at the hotel, which was attended by Bhujbal and chief secretary JP Dange.
Bhujbal also presented Obama a book titled Slavery, written by social reformer late Jyotiba Phule. Chavan, who could not participate in the Taj function, later attended a business summit at Hotel Trident.
(With inputs from Shailesh Gaikwad)