Obama to address joint session of Parliament

Obama to address joint session of Parliament

According to sources in the Union government, Obama will address the members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha at the Central Hall of Parliament on November 9.

If this happens, Obama will be the second American president to address Parliament members. The last US president to make a speech in Parliament was Bill Clinton during his visit in September, 2000. Although his successor George Bush visited India in March 2006, he was not given the honour of addressing Parliament as his visit was opposed by the Left parties in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq.

The November visit will be the first tour to India by Obama after taking over as  president. The US President is likely to visit either Mumbai or Bangalore during his four-day visit. He may also fly to Agra for a few hours if he is accompanied by wife Michell.

In view of Obama’s address to the two Houses, the winter session of Parliament, which normally starts in the second-third week of November, may be advanced.  The decision to host the Obama speech comes in the wake of the Indian government’s refusal to a proposal from the British government to allow Prime Minister David Cameron to address a joint session of Indian parliament during his visit here.

The proposal was shot down due to protocol and scheduling problems. Cameron, who had brought a huge delegation comprising  different ministries besides a business delegation, wanted his India visit to be a big event and sought to address the joint session.

The proposal did the proper rounds in South Block and the file also went to the office of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. But the idea did not finally find favour mainly because of protocol issues— usually such a signal honour is accorded to a head of state. As per protocol, the British Queen is seen as the ideal person to address the Indian parliament.

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