A historic reception, in their own words

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, New York
  • Updated: Sep 29, 2014 01:02 IST

“This is historic in both scope and scale,” said Seshadri Kumar, who publishes a community periodical in Houston, Texas, adding, “there has never been an event like this ever.”

Apart from the 20,000 who came to venue from 49 states of the US, according to the organisers, there were upwards of 200 watch parties taking place elsewhere in the country.

Many said they had never seen anything like this before.

“Probably the largest rally for a foreign leader ever in the US,” tweeted Nish Acharya, former Obama administration official.

The MSG was clearly the high point of Modi’s US visit, which started on September 26.

He leaves on Monday evening for Washington DC for talks with President Barack Obama.

Everyone at the venue and outside called the event historic but few waited to explain, not as eloquently, however as Kumar, who believes Indian Americans are celebrating.

“They are celebrating Modi’s triumph,” said the publisher, who was once a journalist in India, “not only in the polls earlier this year, but also against those who tried to stop him.”

Yes, he argued, against those who lobbied to have him denied a visa in 2005; and “whipped up negative publicity about him in the United States”.

The MSG was a triumph against them.

Jitendra Patel is a mechanical engineer from New Jersey, and he was clear he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here at the MSG, not outside on a sunny fall Sunday.

“This is a celebration,” he said, “of the second Independence.”

The first independence, Patel said, was from the British colonial empire won by Mahatma Gandhi, another Gujarati.

And another independence now — from corruption of the last 60 years.

Patel doesn’t hold any party or individual responsible for those days of slavery.

It all ends now, with Modi, he said.

And MSG was a celebration of that second freedom.

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