As India readies for 'Namaste Trump' to match the 'Howdy Modi!' cheer, there seems to be some confusion about who exactly will be in attendance at the 22 km long roadshow organised for the US leader.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump claimed that his visit to India would be marked with 7 million people cheering him on "between the airport and the event". He attributed this information to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The event in question is the inauguration of the Motera stadium in Gujarat.
Speaking to reporters, the President said, "He (Modi) told me we'll have 7 million people between the airport and the event...It's going to be very exciting."
However, it was mere days later that Trump changed the numbers, once again quoting Prime Minister Modi.
Speaking at a rally in Colorado Trump said, "Great new trade deals will likely be done. I am going to India next week. They have been hitting us hard for many many years but I really like Prime Minister Modi. We'll talk a little businesses. They give us tariffs one of the highest in the world. But I hear they gonna have 10 million people showing up along one of the largest stadiums in the world."
"But you know what the only problem in doing that Prime Minister Modi said we will have a packed house. We have thousands of people who couldn't get in. It's going to look peanuts from now on. I have never been saddened by the crowd, but when we have 10 million people in India how can everyone be satisfied with a 60,000 seat stadium," Trump said.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation however seems to have a different set of numbers in mind. Commissioner Vijay Nehra took to Twitter to say that "More than 1 lakh participants already confirmed for the 22 km roadshow".
Another government source, the Ministry of External Affairs claims that the route of Trump's travel to the stadium is expected to have tens of thousands of citizens as well as artistes showcasing the performing arts from different states and Union Territories.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla also said that the event would be "similar to the landmark 'Howdy, Modi!' event ".
While we're rather confused as to how many people will ultimately show up for the event, keep in mind that it might now even be feasible to reach the numbers Trump seems to be expecting. After all, as per the 2011 Census, Ahmedabad has a population of about 55 lakh. And even as the numbers rise, the 2020 estimates put the city's population at around 86 lakh.
And unless every member of the city and beyond line up along the road, it is impossible to reach the 10 million that Trump claims the Prime Minister has told him about.
On a different note, a turnout of even several million while rather impressive, would be a logistical complication for officials to deal with.
More than 10,000 police personnel, to be led by 25 senior IPS officers, are to be deployed for the roadshow security, police had earlier said. An anti-drone system will be part of the security arrangements, as will teams of the Rapid Action Force, the State Reserve Police Force, Chetak Commando and the Anti-Terrorist Squad would be deployed on strategic locations. Police officials will also be deployed on the terraces of roadside houses.
This is not the only confusing factor when it comes to the impending state visit. The Ministry of External Affairs and Ajay Tomar, the , Special Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch Ahmedabad, contradicted each other on Thursday, creating confusion over the planned visit to the Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati.
The MEA tweet states that the US President and First Lady Melania Trump accompanied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be going to the Motera Stadium for the 'Namaste Trump' event directly from the Ahmedabad airport.
However, an official tweet from Ajay Tomar, the Special CP, Crime Branch Ahmedabad says that the US President will arrive at Ahmedabad on February 24 and to welcome him, PM Narendra Modi will be here. Both of them will go to Sabarmati Ashram first, then they will go to Motera Stadium to attend 'Namaste Trump' event.'
(With inputs from agencies)