Donald Trump visit, Gujarat falls head over heels

Donald Trump visit, Gujarat falls head over heels

On the one hand, the head honchos of corporate world are being lined up to mark presence at the world's biggest 1.10 lakh capacity Motera stadium

RK MisraUpdated: Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 06:17 AM IST
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Gujarat Motera stadium |

Gandhinagar: The government -- at the Centre and in Gujarat -- are pulling out all stops to ensure a life-time experience for US President Donald Trump in his re-election year, when he visits Ahmedabad for a few hours on February 24.

On the one hand, the head honchos of corporate world are being lined up to mark presence at the world's biggest 1.10 lakh capacity Motera stadium; on the other hand, eviction orders are being served on slums; or, they are being concealed behind concrete walls that have sprung overnight. And all this to ensure a feel-good visit for the distinguished visitor.

Trump and Melanie begin their two-day visit in Ahmedabad on February 24 and shall proceed from the airport to the Sabarmati ashram, which was the centre piece of Mahatma Gandhi's struggle for independence.

Thereafter, accompanied by PM Modi, they shall be a part of a 20-km long mega road show that will lead them to the Motera stadium for an inaugural function.

The much-hyped 'kem chho Trump’ event is a take-off on the 'Howdy Mody' extravaganza attended by Trump at Houston last year. Going into overdrive, the establishment is determined to double the participants in the stadium, beyond its capacity on lakh plus.

The downside of the road show is that all business establishments, including shops and eateries along the route, have been ordered shut for the duration of the visit and residents of residential enclaves directed to remain indoors.

Those who want to greet the President, as he passes by, must submit copies of their Aadhaar card and mobile numbers, duly verified by a bonafide office bearer of the enclave, which will then be exchanged for a police pass to be worn round the neck.

People lining up the route as well as those attending the Motera stadium event have been strictly warned not to wear black or carry anything of that colour, not even handkerchiefs or ‘duppattas’ in black, as those sporting such apparel (construed as colour of protest) will not be permitted.

The 10,000 police officers and men mobilised for the visit have been particularly instructed ensure that protesters and activists of all hues -- be it anti-CAA, LRD, etc. -- do not infiltrate and mar the US Presidential event.

“This is unprecedented, humiliating and ignominious for people -- to be meted out such treatment in their own land”, said a spokesperson of the Gujarat Congress.

Former Gujarat chief minister and NCP leader Shankersinh Vaghela has accused the BJP government of wasting Rs700 crore of public money on the visit, which could be better spent on welfare measures like building schools, colleges and hospitals.

‘‘Trump is coming looking for votes of expat Indians in an election year and we go head over heels to facilitate it. Such partisan participation in the politics of another country amounts to setting a very wrong precedent”, he said, adding, ‘‘But it is highly unlikely it will bring about a change in US visa policy towards Indians”.

Meanwhile, sources in the state secretariat aver that corporate Czars, including Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Gautam Adani, Sudhir Mehta, AM Naik and Pankaj Patel, besides a string of other industrialists, have been invited for the Motera event.

Gujarat Industries Commissioner Rahul Gupta said that trade and industry organisations like FICCI, Assocham and the CII have been roped for the event. They will send out invites to their members and also confirm participation.

The organisers said that a separate 6000 capacity block has been earmarked in the stadium near the dais for business and trade heads. In an unprecedented move, perhaps for the first time in the history of the state, the annual budget session of the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha is being postponed from February 24 to 26 in view of the US President's visit.

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