In a new twist to the mega event Namaste Trump to be held at the newly built cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, a newly formed Donald Trump Nagarik Abhivadan Samiti (Citizen Felicitation Committee for Donald Trump) is the organiser of the event.
Mysteriously, it is not known yet about persons who have formed the committee to felicitate U.S. President Donald Trump in a high-profile public event at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on February 24.
On Thursday, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told media persons that the Donald Trump Nagarik Abhivadan Samiti is the organiser of the event.
However, the name became public only when the MEA spokesman had announced it. Even in Gujarat, officials and other agencies involved in the massive preparations for the Namaste Trump event are apparently unaware about any such committee.
“I don’t know about the committee. We are only concerned about the preparations and logistical support,” a top official told The Hindu .
Another official from Ahmedabad said “only today he learnt about existence of the committee”.
Even the MEA declined to give more details about the group that is hosting the event to bring the President and the Prime Minister to the latter’s home State.
The MEA’s silence on the group promoted the Congress party to ask about the committee and when it extended the invitations. “Dear PM, intriguing new from MEA. Pl state: who is the president of Donald Trump Abhinandan Samiti? When was the invitation extended to the U.S. President and accepted and why the President Trump is saying you have promised him a grand event with 7 million people,” tweeted party spokesman Randeep Surjewala.
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Earlier, it was widely reported that the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), which has built the stadium, is organising the event because President Trump and PM Modi were supposed to inaugurate the world’s largest cricket stadium.
However, mysteriously, the inauguration of the stadium has been put off from the menu and now only Namaste Trump event is being held. Though no official reason has been given why the inauguration of the stadium has been put on hold but insiders said “apparently PMO is not keen for inauguration of the stadium along with the event”.
“The inauguration of the cricket stadium would naturally involve entire BCCI and GCA top brass since they funded the stadium and it was not advisable to involve top office bearers with Namaste Trump event, which is primarily for President Trump and PM Modi,” a source privy to the development said.
It must be noted that ex skipper Saurav Ganguly is the president while Jay Shah is the secretary of the BCCI, while Dhanraj Nathwani is the vice-president of the GCA, which remains headless since Amit Shah’s tenure as its chief ended last year.
The MEA said on Thursday there was nothing unusual in the large-scale preparations under way to welcome Mr. Trump and such detailed plans are part of normal logistical plans before any high-profile foreign visits.
Mr. Raveesh Kumar pointed at the support that the U.S. authorities had extended during last September’s Howdy Modi event in Houston and other countries make similar plans when Mr. Modi visits.
“We have to see any such visit in the context of protocol and security arrangements which have to be made. This is very reciprocal. When our Prime Minister visits abroad, we do expect such arrangements and facilitation by other countries as well. I really don’t understand the big deal here,” said Mr. Kumar answering a question on the expenses being incurred by the Government of India and the Gujarat government for the visit.
President Trump will arrive on February 24 and will visit Ahmedabad, Agra and Delhi during his two day visit. “A certain amount of preparation, from the logistics, protocol and security angle will have to be made when hosting a head of the state,” he said justifying the widespread arrangements.
Apart from beautification and construction of a wall in Ahmedabad, elaborate arrangements are being made also in Agra where President Trump and Melania Trump will pay a brief visit to the Taj Mahal.
The issue acquired political colour with Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala questioning the Gujarat government’s decision to spend ₹120 crore for the Namaste Trump event to be held at the Motera stadium. “Diplomacy is a serious government business and not a series of photo ops and event management tactics,” said Mr. Surjewala.
Both sides have made clear that a mega trade deal that India and the U.S. have been negotiating will not be sealed during the visit, but officials maintain that the visit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on regional and global issues.
“Overall, our global strategic partnership will be further strengthened,” said Mr. Kumar explaining the goals to be achieved by the high profile visit.
The official spokesperson hinted that civil nuclear collaboration, science and technology and defence related talks are part of the agenda during visit.