Washington: The euphoria may not be quite like his first inauguration, yet an expectation-defying crowd of over a million turned out to witness the charismatic Barack Obama take oath for a second time as US President. Several Indian Americans join inaugural ball (Agencies)
In 2009, when Obama swept a war-weary America with a promise of change and scripted history by becoming the first African American President, a record 1.8 million people had flooded the National Mall to witness his swearing in.
This year, the inauguration officers of the presidential inauguration committee and security officers associated with the planning had expected around 800,000 people to turn up for the event.
However, officials associated with the crowd management said they estimated that at least a million people had attended the inauguration event in the US Capital on Monday, surpassing expectations.
According to Washington Metro Transit Authority – which runs the city's metro system – by 4 pm more than 538,000 people had used the metro system and they were expecting the number to cross much more by the end of the day.
The huge crowd that crossed a million marks took many organisers by surprise, and is indicative that Obama still enjoys much of the popularity he held at the beginning of his first term.
Obama himself wanted to have a last glimpse of this cheering crowd overlooking the National Mall from the Capitol Hill. "I want to take a look one more time. I'm not going to see this again," he said as he was walking away from the Capitol Hill after delivering his speech to the hundreds and thousands of people.
After having his traditional luncheon at the Congress, Obama and the First Lady drove by the parade route to the hundreds and thousands of cheering crowd who had lined up for hours on Monday, some even waiting since early in the morning.
"Obama, Obama" and "Four more years!" chanted the crowd. Many simply screamed and waived the American national flag. When Obama and Michelle came out of their vehicle and walked for a short distance, both of them waved to the cheering crowd.
The First Lady, who was wearing deep purple gloves, occasionally clapped when the two weren't holding hands. Many onlookers waved flags and clicked pictures. Crowds waved and cheered from several rooftops along Pennsylvania.
As the first couple walked some in crowd chanted: "Fired up! Ready to go!" – a popular election slogan for the US President.
Vice President, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill, also took some time to walk part of the parade route, with Biden periodically jogging over to the sidelines to shake hands with people across the barricades.
Several gorgeous saris and Nehruvian jackets were to be seen at US President Barack Obama's inaugural ball, as a number of Indian Americans made it to the select list of invitees to the prestigious event, reflecting the emergence of this influential community at the national centre stage.
"The Indian American political tiger has arrived," said Tobby Chaudhuri, a White House advisor and a veteran political strategist as he danced with his wife Ruby on the floor, celebrating Obama's second inauguration.
Chaudhuri, who was among the few Indian Americans to have been invited to the inaugural ball, said the community has emerged as a force to reckon with at the national level – be it political, social or administrative spheres.
"The challenge is to sustain this momentum," Chaudhuri told on the dance floor of the inaugural ball. Arun Rao, a senior White House official from the Department of Justice, said that Obama has brought in his administration people from diverse section of the society.
There is a diverse representation in his Administration, he said, standing with his wife, attired in a sari. Obama has the distinction of appointing the largest number of Indian Americans in any presidential administration, he pointed out.
Eminent Indian American chef, K N Vinod, was excited about attending the first inaugural ball of his life, with his wife. "Hopefully the worst is behind us. Hope the economy would improve," he said.
"In the last four years the economy has been a very tough one for the small businesses – one step forward and one step backward," said Vinod, who has been to the White House kitchen several times during the first Obama Administration.
He says Obama loves Indian food. Ahead of the inaugural ball, Vinod said it took him quite a while to decide what he should wear for the event – a tuxedo or a Nehruvian jacket.
"Finally, I settled with the latter," he said. His wife Nisha Vinod joined him in an orange sari.
Washington: The euphoria may not be quite like his first inauguration, yet an expectation-defying crowd of over a million turned out to witness the charismatic Barack Obama take oath for a second time as US President.
Several Indian Americans join inaugural ball