‘Namaste Trump’ caps were distributed amongst bystanders and to those inside Motera stadium; people were brought in from across the state in buses; school children were made to stand since morning; roads cleared of stray animals; walls built around slum—Ahmedabad was all ready for American President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.
A committee was also formed to overlook the affairs of the three-hour mega event. The Swagat Samiti included 10 members: Bijal Patel, Mayor of Ahmedabad and Chairperson of the committee, Hasmukh Patel, BJP MP from Ahmedabad East, Kirit Solanki, Ahmedabad West MP, architect and Padma Bhushan awardee BV Doshi, Gujarat University VC Himanshu Pandya and Durgesh Buch from Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
As Donald Trump and Melania Trump left for Gandhi Ashram after landing in Ahmedabad at around 12 noon, people stood on both sides of the road; they had been waiting since morning.
“We have been here since 7 am. We were told it is mandatory to attend the event,” said a student of Sola Bhagwat school, one of the many schools whose students were asked to be attend the event.
The Ahmedabad civic body had a target of gathering one lakh people for the event. The road show had 28 stages with tableau and stages set for cultural programmes of different states. Reportedly, about 1,500 state buses were used to ferry people from the districts that included Anganwadi workers, local BJP workers, school children, government school teachers. In the whole process that started three days ahead of the event, state bus services on certain routes were suspended due to shortage of buses.
Modi, Donald and Melania Trump left Sabarmati Ashram after about spending half an hour as Trump signed the visitor’s book. Notably, in Trump’s message, “To my great friend, Prime Minister Modi – Thank you for this wonderful visit,”, he failed pay a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, which evoked many reactions.
“This is an insult to Gandhi. Modi and BJP have left no stone unturned in deriding Gandhi; in fact, they are followers of his killer. Despite this, Modi speaks about Gandhi during his foreign trips and makes a mandatory stop at Gandhi Ashram each time any foreign dignitary visits Ahmedabad. Such is the legacy of Gandhi and his work. It is petty to not pay tribute to the man who created the Ashram that Modi is showcasing,” said Mudita Vidrohi, a city-based Gandhian activist.
Notably, 168 people including academicians, artists, students and activists of Ahmedabad penned “a letter of opposition to Trump”.
“On Monday, United States President Donald Trump is set to address crowd of 1.5 lakh people in Ahmedabad. In preparation for the event, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has cordoned off large portions of the city, erected half kilometre wall and issued eviction notice to 45 families. The AMC had spent 85 crore to facilitate this three hour event, money that could have been spent on citizens,” read the letter.
“For those who have lived in Gujarat for past decades this privileging of foreign capital on local needs is sadly familiar. Large infrastructure projects have time and again displaced many. In all of the development, many have been left behind. Both India and US have seen rise of authoritarian politics in recent years with Modi and Trump at helm. With spectacular rise in global fascism today, this alignment between the largest democracy in the world and most powerful democracy is dangerous for only India but the world, (sic)” the letter further read.
Dev Desai, one of the activists who signed the letter, was picked up by Ahmedabad police at around 1.30 last night. His whereabouts have been unknown since then.
The three-hour visit by Trump at Ahmedabad that cost around 82 crore ended with his speech at Motera stadium. Reportedly, as Trump spoke after Modi, many from the audience began leaving—who then had to be stopped by the policeat the gate of the stadium.