Hours before United States President Donald Trump will land in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad on Monday, the city wore a festive look. The American president is scheduled to arrive at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport around 11.40 am for his first two-day visit to India.
“I look forward to being with the people of India,” Trump told the media before leaving for India, according to PTI. “We are going to have many millions and millions of people. It’s a long trip. I get along very well with Prime Minister Modi. He is a friend of mine.”
Tweeting a video of his departure from the White House, Trump posted: “Departing for India with Melania!”
To this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi replied with: “India awaits your arrival Donald Trump! Your visit is definitely going to further strengthen the friendship between our nations.”
Trump said that he had committed to the trip to India a long time ago. “I hear it’s going to be a big event..the biggest event they ever had in India,” he said. “That’s what the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] told me. It’s the biggest event they ever had. It’s going to be very exciting. I am going to be there for one night.”
Trump is accompanied by his wife and United States’ First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner along with top-level members of his administration. The United States president will take part in roadshows along with Modi on the way from the airport to Sabarmati Ashram. Following this, they are scheduled to reach the newly-constructed Motera cricket stadium for the “Namaste Trump” event.
More than one lakh people are likely to attend the event called “Namaste Trump”. Dance troupes and singers are reportedly going to perform on stages built along the 22-km route of the Modi-Trump roadshow. Several billboards of the Trumps along with Modi have been put up on the streets where people will greet the politicians. Students of government and private schools are also expected to perform, an official told PTI.
Over 10,000 security forces have been deployed to monitor the situation. They are an additional part of the security detail, apart from the United States Secret Service officials, and personnel of the National Security Guards, and the Special Protection Group.
Sabarmati Ashram secretary Amrut Modi said that the United States president is expect to spend around 15 minutes at the place. “Trump will visit the ‘Hriday Kunj’,” an unidentified official at the Ashram said. “If he wishes, he will spin a charkha. We will also gift him a coffee-table book, and a book containing 150 quotations of Gandhi.” Many world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have visited the ashram during their visits in the recent past.
After Ahmedabad, the Trumps will visit Agra in Uttar Pradesh, which has also been decked up with several billboards of the leaders. Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Adityanath will welcome at Kheria airport around 4.30 pm on Monday.
In Agra, old roads were repaired, dividers on the street were repainted, illegal hoardings and posters were reportedly removed along the route of Trump’s convoy. Water has been continuously discharged into the Yamuna river to improve its “environmental condition” and it has also been sprayed on streets to prevent dust. The Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department has released 500 cusecs of water into the river.
A group of around 350 artistes are scheduled to perform at the airport. A tight security detail has been put in place across the city, primarily along the nearly 13-km route that will be taken by Trump’s convoy from the airport to the hotel. Security has also been beefed up in and around the Taj Mahal.
The US president will arrive with his family at the Taj Mahal around 5.15 pm, and spend about an hour at the 17th century mausoleum, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. After Agra, he will leave for the main leg of the visit to Delhi, during which restricted and delegation-level discussions are expected to take place between Trump and Modi. The talks will be held at Hyderabad House in the national Capital on Tuesday.
India is hoping to negotiate a trade deal with the United States during Trump’s visit. On Thursday, Trump said proposed new Indian tariffs have complicated negotiations, but he will “talk business” with Modi. “I’m going to India next week and we’re talking trade,” Trump had said at a rally in Colorado. “They’ve been hitting us very hard for many, many years but I really like Prime Minister Modi.”
The United States president is also likely to discuss religious freedom with India during his visit. “President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private,” an unidentified senior official at the White House had said on Saturday.