US First Lady`s presence unlikely for Obama`s Parl address

Michelle Obama is unlikely to be in Parliament when US President Barack Obama addresses the world`s largest democracy on November eight.

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2010, 20:51 PM IST

New Delhi: Michelle Obama is unlikely to be in Parliament when US President Barack Obama addresses the world`s largest democracy on November eight.

"There is no confirmation yet about the US First Lady attending the function," Parliament sources said.

The US President is scheduled to address members of Parliament on November eight during his four-day official visit to India.

Briefing reporters on the visit, US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said in Washington that the First Lady would be accompanying the President to a number of his events.

However, she will also have a separate programme.

"She`ll be with him for certain things, but we expect her to do a couple of independent events. We expect that they`ll be related to education and the empowerment of women and girls," Rhodes said.

Speaker Meira Kumar, who returned from Raipur this morning after attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference, reviewed the preparations for the November eight function.

Hectic preparations are on in Parliament and the Central Hall has been closed for renovation. All construction activities will end in the Complex a week before the visit.

Right from the circular facade of the eight-decade-old structure to paintings in the corridors and magnificent Central Hall, Parliament is being refurbished.

As per the tentative programme being worked out, the address by Obama would not be for more than 20 minutes. It is scheduled to start at 5 PM.

The US President`s programme in Parliament House complex itself will be less than an hour`s affair, the sources said.

The programme will begin with a welcome speech by Vice President Hamid Ansari and a vote of thanks by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. The US President would also sign the Golden Book, the visitors` diary of Parliament.

It was in the historic Central Hall that the British handed over power to India in 1947. It was also the platform for addresses by several leaders, including former US President Bill Clinton who visited India in 2000.

PTI