Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India on February 24, extensive preparations are underway. Trump, who will be in India for two days, will address a large crowd at the world’s largest cricket stadium Motera in Ahmedabad and will also pay a visit to the Taj Mahal.
Claiming that India has not treated the United States “very well” on the trade front, President Trump has indicated that a “very big” bilateral deal may not be signed before the American presidential election in November. However, at least five pacts on homeland security, trade facilitation, and intellectual property rights are being readied ahead of the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump in New Delhi on February 25.
Here’s how India is gearing up to welcome Trump
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has built a wall along the road connecting the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Indira Bridge, ostensibly to mask the slum area on the likely route that Trump and Modi would take for the roadshow when the visiting leader lands in Ahmedabad on February 24.
The AMC has also served eviction notices to 45 families living in a slum near the newly built Motera stadium. The families consisting of around 200 slum-dwellers who are registered construction workers claimed they have been asked to move out of a plot they have been inhabiting for two decades due to the upcoming “Namaste Trump” event. However, AMC officials said the notices had no connection with the event. There were also reports that local paan shops in the city have been shut to stop people spitting on the road, but the local administration in Ahmedabad denied any such move.
In what is being dubbed as similar to PM Modi’s ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event, Trump will be a part of ‘Namaste Trump’ in Ahmedabad. In various media interactions, the US President has expressed his excitement for the 22-km-long roadshow in which he will be accompanied by PM Modi. While Trump has said that he has been told that “six to 10 million people are going to be showing up along the route,” an estimated 1.25 lakh people are expected to be in the world’s largest stadium, Motera on February 24. The crowd ranges from Bollywood stars, cricket legends, business leaders, political leaders and NRIs to school and college students. The Namaste Trump event is expected to touch a bill of Rs 100 crore, of which Rs 20 crore is being spent on widening and re-carpeting roads.
A large 40-feet platform is being created at the centre of the stadium, which will be above the cricket pitch. This platform will be used by Trump and Modi who are expected to enter from the side of the GCA(Gujarat Cricket Association) Club, official sources said. Seating arrangements for around 10,000 VVIPs have been made next to the platform where cultural events will be held. Invitation cards with barcodes — which are yet to be issued — will carry the seat number. The colour combination of the seats has been done in such a way that it represents the shining sun from the top.
Meanwhile, in Agra, the Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department has released 500 cusecs of water from Bulandshahr into the river Yamuna to improve its “environmental condition”. The state’s pollution control board said that the move may not make Yamuna’s water fit for drinking, but could reduce the foul smell.
The US President and First Lady Melania will also make their maiden visit to the Taj Mahal. Fresh coats of paint, potholes covered with dry tar, uniformly coloured shop hoardings, newly dug pavements and broad roads await the Trumps. Shopkeepers along the route have also been asked to put up uniform hoardings to make the road more aesthetic.
# Trumps land around noon in Ahmedabad
# PM likely to receive them; roadshow to Motera stadium
# Modi, Trump to address ‘Namaste Trump’
# Trumps to leave for Agra 3.30 pm, visit Taj Mahal, go to Delhi
# Rashtrapati Bhavan reception at 10 am
# Visit to Rajghat
# Modi-Trump talks at Hyderabad House, lunch and press statements
# Meeting with business leaders
# Banquet hosted by President Kovind
# Departure from Delhi
(With inputs from ENS Ahmedabad, New Delhi)
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