Washington: In his September 2014 visit to Washington DC during the Obama Presidency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi famously went without eating during a White House dinner — because he was in the middle of a nine-day Navratri fast.
While then President Obama and the two delegations feasted on crisped halibut in ginger carrot sauce, compressed avocados, and mango creme brulee, Modi sipped on warm water. Also absent from the reception, First Lady Michelle Obama gave the dinner a miss and decamped on a day trip to the mid-west.
No such complications when India’s Prime Minister heads into the White House on Monday evening. First Lady Melania Trump will join the President in welcoming Modi; she will also join them for dinner and later participate in the departure ceremony, making three appearances with the visiting leader, who is single by virtue of an early marriage (at 18) he chose to abandon.
Melania Trump has only just moved in to the White House and this will be the first big reception she will be part of in the Presidential mansion, although she and President Trump hosted China’s President Xi Jinping, and his wife, Peng Liyuan in Mara-a-Lago, Florida in April.
Also apparently playing a prominent role during the Modi visit will be US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley – a first generation Sikh who was born Nimrata Randhawa — the sole Indian-American cabinet member in the Trump administration.
President Trump has invited her to the Monday lunch he usually has with vice-president Mike Pence, just ahead of Modi’s arrival at the White House at 3.30pm(local time), ostensibly to discuss the meeting. Haley has met Modi when she was governor of South Carolina to promote business in her home state.