Maharashtra CM, envoys to receive Obama in Mumbai

Mumbai, Nov.6 (ANI): Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and the ambassadors of India and the United States -- Meera Shankar and Tim Roemer --, besides Minister-in-waiting Salman Khursheed, will receive US President Barack Obama and US First Lady Michelle Obama when they arrive this afternoon at the Chhattrapati Shivaji Airport here.

Chavan's decision to receive Obama puts at rest the controversy that surfaced when the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai had asked invitees to President Barack Obama's functions to submit personal details like PAN numbers.

The consulate apologised after it drew angry reaction from senior Maharashtra ministers.

Officials blamed it on "clerical error".

"I have visited Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal personally to apologise. It was a clerical error," US Consul General Paul Folmsbee said.

An official in the Maharashtra Secretariat said a form attached to the invite sent to Chavan, other ministers and senior bureaucrats has "a huge list of questions, including on blood group, date of birth, official designation and this too for those holding constitutional posts."

Sources said some of the invitees were even planning to skip the event scheduled during Obama's visit to the city, the first leg of his three-day stay in the country.

Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the Consul General had called on him after he expressed his displeasure on the issue.

"He said he was sorry," Bhujbal said, adding he was yet to take a call on attending the programmes.

Earlier, on Friday, President Obama left for India as part of his four-nation Asia trip that would also take him to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

The Air Force One aircraft carrying 49-year old Obama along with the First Lady Michelle took off from the Andrews Air Force Base for a 10-day visit to Asia.

Obama, dressed in a suit and tie, and the first lady in a slate blue dress with cream detail, a camel-coloured jacket and black boots, boarded the plane at 7:35 p.m. Indian Standard Time, waving to the cameras.

The presidential plane stopped over at the Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany for refueling.

President Obama and his entourage are scheduled to arrive in Mumbai at 12.50

In Mumbai, Obama would stay at the Taj Hotel. After a two-day stay in Mumbai, the President will travel to New Delhi on Sunday for a two-day stay. He will leave for Indonesian capital Jakarta on Tuesday morning. (ANI)

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