New Delhi: While the Obama – Modi duo was all over the news channels yesterday, Michelle was completely missing in action. We saw her briefly when she walked down hand in hand with the President wearing Indian designer in USA Bibhu Mohapatra’s design. From the moment they stepped on the tarmac however, she was completely relegated to the background.
At the Rashtrapati Bhawan later on, it was another woman Wing Commander Puja Thakur who was the cynosure of all eyes as, for the first time ever, a woman officer lead the guard of honour for the VVIP guest.
Later on when the two heads of state visited Rajghat again Michelle was absent. She was seen again only at the official banquet at night when Obama jokingly referred to her presence by saying “Michelle is now replaced by Modi as the new fashion icon. Even I was thinking of wearing a Modi jacket to dinner”.
Some press reports this morning state that Michelle spent the day in the hotel, ITC Maurya . Why so? One version is that since there was no corresponding ‘first lady’ in India – since Modi lives alone, though officially married and President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter was not available, she had no official hostess to take her around.
Another, slightly uncharitable version says that if Michelle had been around, say at the Rajghat where first ladies do go, she would have stolen the limelight and Modi did not want that. Otherwise he could have had some high profile NDA Minister, Smriti Irani for instance, escorting Michelle.
Whatever the reason, it is a tragedy that Indians are not getting a chance to see Michelle more. One remembers how last time she was so visible, dancing with school kids Bollywood style and donning Indian etchnic fashion.