The Indian community in the United Kingdom has promised to outdo the rousing receptions that >Prime Minister Narendra Modi received from Indian communities in the >United States and >Australia . It will not only be bigger in scale (70,000 at Wembley stadium, the organisers pledge), but will also have a cultural extravaganza, and “the largest fireworks display ever held in the United Kingdom.”
Indeed, the announcement by the Europe India Forum, of November 13 as the date of Mr. Modi’s public meeting comes even before the official announcement of Mr. Modi’s dates and itinerary from the Indian High Commission in London. Sources have confirmed that Prime Minister Modi will visit the United Kingdom from November 12-14.
The organisers say they hope the event will be the largest reception for a foreign head of state ever held in the U.K. and the largest an >Indian Prime Minister has received anywhere outside India.
Mr. Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom is long overdue, and there is great speculation as to why that is. The U.K. government was one of the earliest to invite Mr. Modi, and although he has visited the >U.S ., >Australia and the major European, Asian and middle-eastern countries, he has not come to the U.K., not even for unveiling the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square earlier this year.
Britain, of course, was the only country that imposed a ban on Mr. Modi visiting the United Kingdom following the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 that happened under his watch as Chief Minister. Three British citizens perished in the Gujarat violence.
That said, the ban was lifted well before the elections in May 2014 that saw Mr. Modi ride to power.
To perhaps emphasis the point that the reception for Mr. Modi will have the stamp of inclusivity, the Europe India Forum has carried statements of support from heads of Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh organisations, as well as several community ones.
Professor Nath Puri of the EIF stressed that the “Olympics style reception” would bring together people from across communities and backgrounds. Shamsuddin Agha, president of the Indian Muslim Federation said he hoped the visit would “demolish the walls of hatred and extremism” and bolster trade and economic cooperation. Gurmail Singh Mahli, president of the largest Gurdwara in Britain, the Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Southall, also welcomed the visit.