A drive in an open-top limousine, dinner at a roof-top restaurant and a walk on a more than 100-year-old bridge on the Sabarmati are just some of the arrangements made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to welcome his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to poll-bound Gujarat on Wednesday. Shinzo Abe will be in India on a two-day official visit. PM Modi will likely go to the airport to receive Shinzo Abe, a departure from usual protocol he has made only for a handful of leaders, including former US President Barack Obama.
In a show of grandeur, the road from the airport to the city has been replete with hoardings carrying photos of Modi and Abe. Cutouts on hoardings declaring “a strong synergy for peace and prosperity”, “welcome to the only home of Asiatic lions”, “New India, bright future”, “Welcome to India, welcome to Gujarat” — in Japanese Hiragana script, too are generously displayed. Also Read: Shinzo Abe visit: Airport reception, roadshow, and dinner at roof-top restaurant
As Modi meets Abe today, here are some of the top things on agenda:
1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe will hold bilateral talks at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar on Thursday. But before this they will also address a public meeting after the ground-breaking ceremony for the bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Also Read: The bullet train route, mostly overhead, a stretch undersea
2. Sources told The Indian Express that Japan and India are likely going to strengthen strategic partnership in the neighbourhood in terms of joint development of projects. This move is aimed at keeping an eye on China’s attempt to increase its strategic footprint in the region. Shinzo Abe’s visit will likely witness a more pronounced articulation of countering the Chinese influence.
3. Both leaders will engage in sort of a ‘dinner diplomacy’ at one of Ahmedabad’s top-notch restaurants serving authentic local cuisine. This is quite similar to what Shinzo Abe had organised for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kyoto’s state guest house back in 2014.
4. After ‘dinner diplomacy’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Shinzo Abe will go for a walk on a more than 100-year-old bridge, the Ellis bridge on the Sabarmati. The bridge has been decorated with colourful fairy lights. A top source involved in the arrangements told The Indian Express that the roadshow, airport reception, dinner at a roof-top restaurant, and post-dinner walk — is all aimed at sending out pictures of warmth between the two leaders. Besides, it will give the two leaders enough time to engage with each other for almost eight hours on the first day of the visit.
5. Both PM Modi and Shinzo Abe have carefully chosen ‘photo opportunities’ that are different from those in 2014 when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Ahmedabad. A source told the Indian Express: “We wanted different locations so that there are no similarities, since the relationships with both countries are at completely different levels.”