India Pulls out the Agra Red Carpet Hoping the Obamas Say Wah Taj

The preparations for the US president’s visit as Republic Day chief guest next month are in the right earnest.

Published: 21st December 2014 05:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st December 2014 08:20 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: The preparations for the US president’s visit as Republic Day chief guest next month are in the right earnest. In a preliminary field trip, the advance team visited potential venues to sketch an outline for the historical trip.

Officials said that while there had been discussions, the outline was still to be worked out with a lot depending on the demand for an extremely high security cover for such a visit. Outside Delhi, Agra is being looked at a possible venue for a visit with the US team having scoped out the world heritage monument during their trip last week. Obama had skipped Agra during his last visit in 2010.

Since Taj Mahal is on the agenda, it is likely that first lady Michelle Obama will also be in the entourage. A photograph for a solo traveller at the monument of love would be incongruous. It remains to be seen if the first daughters will visit the capital. Obama had promised to bring them to India. The details of the visit are being chalked out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, MEA, the special protection group and various security agencies. In the MEA, the foreign secretary Sujatha Singh is supervising all arrangements, along with the chief of protocol Jaideep Mazumdar and joint secretary (Americas) Vinay Kwatra.

Like previous US presidential visits, the Obamas’ stay in Delhi will be at the ITC Maurya, where the tower annexe a free-standing will be taken over during the visit.

So far, Rashtrapati Bhawan has not yet been brought fully into the picture. However, it will be hosting at least three important events. There is the Presidential banquet on January 25th, followed by the start of the journey to Rajpath on the morning of January 26, followed by the “At Home” in the afternoon.

There are so far no indications that the timing of the Republic Day Parade will be shortened  or modified in any sense. However, due to the large media contingent travelling with the US president—around 100, a separate, larger enclosure may be carved out.

The Prime Minister will also be hosting the Obamas either for lunch at the Hyderabad House or at a small private dinner at his Race Course Road residence. The visit is likely to be over by the night of January 26.


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