New Delhi:Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday night hosted a private dinner for visiting US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle which was attended by political bigwigs, business leaders, actors and sports personalities.
The Obamas drove to the 7, Race Course Road residence of Singh from ITC Maurya where they are staying. They were warmly welcomed by Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur.
The guests included UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, senior union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony, P Chidambaram, S M Krishna and Sharad Pawar, senior BJP leader L K Advani and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
Omar Abdullah was the only chief minister invited to the PM’s private dinner.Omar was seen chatting for a while with Obama and his wife Michelle at the dinner.
Kashmir’s famed beauty is believed to have figured in the chit-chat during which Omar remarked that he hoped that the US first couple would visit the state some day.
Top business leaders Azim Premji, Ratan Tata, Swati Piramal and N R Narayanamurthy were among the guests which also included Bollywood personalities Aamir Khan, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akthar.
Chess wizard Viswanathan Anand and Environmental Activist Sunita Narain was also present at the dinner.
Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan ‘Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye jay peerh paraaye janney ray´ played by the Indian Navy and BSF Camels Band was heard with rapt attention by Obama, a self-confessed disciple of the Father of the Nation.
This was followed by the all-time hit from ‘Waqt´ - ‘O meri zohra jabeen, tujhe maloom nahin´.
Obama was seated on the head table with Prime Minister Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur, Michelle, Sonia Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee and Rahul Gandhi.
The dinner started with shorba and mulagatani soups and the main course included chingara jammu prongs, fish and green-chilly lamb, kakori kababs, mughlai chicken, gobi, dal dampukht, rice pulao and a variety of Indian breads.
The dessert included kesar phirni and mava poti. The catering was from ITC Maurya where the Obamas are staying.
Ahead of the dinner, Singh and Obama were closeted for a one-on-one meeting for about 25 minutes during which the two leaders were understood to have taken stock of bilateral ties and ways to push these to higher levels of strategic partnership.
The two leaders are believed to have taken an overview of the bilateral relations, which have grown substantially over the last few years.
Earlier in the day, Singh set aside protocol and went to the Indira Gandhi International airport to receive the US First Couple who arrived here on the second leg of the visit after a hectic 26-hour stay in Mumbai.