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Namaste Trump! PM to receive US President in Ahmedabad today

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on February 23, 2020 Published on February 24, 2020

Hoardings and billboards welcoming the U.S. President Donald Trump installed along a road ahead of his February 24 visit, in Ahmedabad.   -  PTI

Mega roadshow and public rally to give Trump’s India tour an electrifying start

If sobriquets could be borrowed, Ahmedabad, perhaps, would like to be called the Maximum City, at least for a day. The reason is the much anticipated visit of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, who will kick-start their first India tour from here amid much excitement and fanfare. And, Ahmedabad is all charged-up to gift the head of the US Government the spectacle of a lifetime.

First POTUS visit to Gujarat

Since taking charge as the Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi has been bringing foreign heads of governments to Gujarat — his home State. And in a first, he has managed to get an incumbent US President to land in Gujarat.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport a little earlier than 11.40 am — the scheduled arrival of Air Force One, the US President’s aircraft — to receive Trump, his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner with a red-carpet welcome.

A guard of honour by the three wings of Armed Forces will be accorded to Trump, who is the seventh US President to visit India since Independence.

Notably, after much ambiguity over Trump’s visit to Sabarmati Ashram, sources now confirmed to BusinessLine that the President will visit the Satyagraha Ashram before going to the Motera stadium.

 

A political booster for ‘Don’

Trump’s Ahmedabad visit is being seen as a political booster dose in support of the US President, who is facing elections later this year. The Gujarati community is among the largest Indian diaspora in the US and holds influential positions there. Modi is hosting Trump at the public event named ‘Namaste Trump’, similar to the ‘Howdy Modi’ event held in Houston last September.

Immediately after announcing his India visit earlier this month, Trump had tweeted that Prime Minister Modi had promised him that “we will have millions and millions of people. He thinks we will have 5-7 million people just from the airport to the new stadium.”

The two leaders are set to go on a 22-km-long roadshow from the airport to the Sabarmati Ashram and then to the renovated Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Gujarat Cricket stadium at Motera. An architectural marvel, the stadium will have over 1.2 lakh people attending the ‘Namaste Trump’ mega show, where the two leaders will address the gathering.

The visit is not without its share of controversies. “There is no transparency on the funding of the event. Also, there is an unknown committee created overnight, organising the entire event. We need accountability for tax payers’ money,” said Shankershinh Vaghela, former Chief Minister of Gujarat, who accused the government of wasteful and extravagant expenditure. The event will have musical and cultural performances by prominent artists. It is estimated that the entire event will cost about ₹100 crore.

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel had earlier clarified that the event at the Motera stadium is not a State programme. A citizen’s committee named Donald Trump Nagrik Abhivadan Samiti – headed by Ahmedabad Major Bijal Patel besides five other prominent citizens, academicians, public representatives and businessmen – is organising the ‘Namaste Trump’ event.

Prepped-up Ahmedabad

Preparations for the mega event and roadshow have concluded with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday morning sharing his excitement on Twitter. Trump, on the other hand, seemed thrilled with his India visit, as he hailed a video meme showing him as Bahubali and shared it on his Twitter timeline.

Parts of Ahmedabad have been given a complete makeover with resurfaced roads, decorative walls and massive hoardings of Modi and Trump. Barricades have been erected on both sides of the road through which the Trump cavalcade would pass.

 

Published on February 24, 2020
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