New Delhi: A day after he surprised everyone by turning up at the airport to personally receive Barack Obama, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today upped the ante by skipping protocol again and announcing, impromptu, a Padma Vibhushan to the US President.
And keeping in line with his go-getting style, Modi, without waiting for the Rashtrapathi Bhavan to go through pointless formalities, personally handed the citation and award to Obama, shortly after the Republic Day Parade at which the US President was the chief guest.
The Padma Vibhushan award is the first ever announced and handed to an US President.
Minutes after the parade was over, when the dignitaries were getting up from their seats and about to leave, Modi unexpectedly tapped on Obama’s shoulder, and succinctly said ‘lo bhai,’ and in his benevolent hands were the glorious citation for Padma Vibhushan.
For a few pulsating seconds, Obama couldn’t react, but eventually he put his palms over his agape mouth beauty-contest-winner-like and hugged Modi in an emphatic show of camaraderie for the cameras to click.
Obama seemed totally overwhelmed by the extraordinary gesture shown by the Indian Prime Minister. ‘I am moved beyond words,’ Obama said. ‘I came here expecting to be a ceremonial spectator. And at best I could have hoped for a few souvenirs and some historical knickknacks to take back home with me. Never in my dreams, I expected to be bestowed with one of India’s top civilian awards. It gives me goosebumps just imagining that every time an Indian politician mentions my name he is going to say Padma Vibhushan Obamaji ,’ the US President said, even as Modi put a reassuring arm around him in a kind bid to bring his emotions to an even keel.
For his part, Modi said ‘It is a fitting honour as Barack bhai has become one among us. Even our media mithron understand this and that is why they are covering OBama’s events through OB vans’.
Modi added: ‘Personally, we have grown close enough these days to share whatsapp forwards and pictures (*nudge nudge wink wink*) when going to sleep. In the coming days, Barack bhai and I hope to take this relationship further forward by forming a whatsapp Group with likeminded leaders like Abe bhai. ’
Meanwhile, it is also learnt that apart from presenting Michelle Obama saris, reflecting the growing ties between the two countries, India has sent a few sets of Ghagra Choli, designed by Sabysachi, and a separate 50-page manual on how to wear them, to Obama’s daughters Natasha and Malia.
In a reciprocative gesture, it is learnt, Obama has personally invited Modi to the US on its historically most important day, and the two leaders are expected to ceremoniously walk down the aisles of Walmart and Sears on Black Friday Sale day’.
Elsewhere, reacting to the epoch-making Padma Vibhushan awarded to Obama, a Congress party spokesperson played down the Indian Prime Minister’s gesture. ‘The award for Obama was something that was proposed during the first tenure of the UPA itself. Manmohan Singh had come up with the same idea. But he couldn’t go through with it due to the simple niggle as Obama had not become President then’.
The Congress also came down on the NDA government for taking all the credit on the nuclear deal clinched between Indian and the US. ‘Let the record show it was Manmohan Singh who was instrumental in getting the nuclear deal done between the two countries. It is just that he had forgotten to operationalise it. These things happen in all our lives, don’t they? For example we buy vacuum cleaners. But most of us don’t operationalise it even once in our life time’.
(Disclaimer: US has also assured to permanently say that it would support India’s candidacy as a permanent member of UNSC)