Wednesday, April 08, 2020, 03:13:46 PM

Trump invokes cricket and Bollywood at India rally

International Desk |
Update: 2020-02-24 4:12:32 PM
Trump invokes cricket and Bollywood at India rally
Trump in India

US President Donald Trump has addressed a massive public rally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his first official visit to the country.

"Namaste," he began to a thunderous round of applause, before going on to refer to several Indian icons, from history to cricket to Bollywood.

He was speaking at the Motera stadium in Gujarat, Mr Modi's home state.

Mr Trump's visit will focus on deepening ties between the world's two largest democracies.

"India will always hold a very special place in our hearts," he said.

He also had words of praise for Mr Modi: "Everybody loves him but I will tell you this, he is very tough. You are not just the pride of Gujarat, you are living proof that with hard work, Indians can accomplish anything they want."

However, he struggled to pronounce several Indian words - from Ahmedabad, the city where he was speaking, to Swami Vivekananda, an Indian philosopher, greatly admired by Mr Modi. He also called the Vedas - ancient Hindu texts - "Vestas".

He ended his speech by saying, "God bless India, God bless the United States of America - we love you, we love you very much."

He spoke after Mr Modi, and the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan says crowds began leaving mid-way through the US president's speech.

Mr Trump arrived earlier in the day to a grand public reception and road show, with crowds lining his route to the stadium. The road show also featured performers from across the country, showcasing the arts from different Indian states.

Billboards along the route were emblazoned with pictures of the men and carried slogans such as "two dynamic personalities, one momentous occasion".

Mr Trump entered to the music of Elton John playing on the speakers. Mr Trump's love of his songs is well documented.

The event at Motera stadium is being compared to the "Howdy, Modi!" event the two men held in Houston last year, which was attended by 50,000 people.

Mr Trump earlier made a quick stop at the Sabarmati Ashram, where Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in Gujarat, lived for 13 years.

Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tried their hand at the charka or spinning wheel, which is used to spin cloth. Gandhi popularised the act as a form of protest against foreign-made cloth during India's independence movement.

"To my great friend Prime Minister Modi, thank you for this wonderful visit," Mr Trump wrote in the ashram visitor's book.
Ahead of his visit, Mr Trump had said he was looking forward "to being with the people of India".

"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," he said.

"I hear it's going to be a big event… the biggest event they ever had in India."

But amid the fanfare, a much-talked about trade deal is unlikely to happen during the trip.

Source: BBC

BDST: 1612 HRS, FEB 24, 2020

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