Modi visit: Present united front, envoy tells UK Indians

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Oct 05, 2015 16:16 IST
Indian high commissioner Ranjan Mathai lighting a lamp at a ‘thanksgiving’ event in the Indian Gymkhana Club in London on Sunday, accompanied by (from left) Dhiraj Shah, president of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK and Baroness Sandip Verma. (HT Photo)

Indian high commissioner Ranjan Mathai told leaders of over 450 organisations on Sunday evening that it was important to present a united front during the 13 November community event in the Wembley stadium to honour Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking at a ‘thanksgiving’ event that brought together leaders of the 450 organisations registered as ‘welcome partners’, Mathai said ongoing preparations were a “huge undertaking”, and added that the Wembley event would not only match similar events in the US but “outdo” them.

Organisers have promised an “Olympic-style” event that would not only be the largest Modi has received outside India, but the largest any visiting foreign leader had received in Britain. Over 60,000 people had registered to attend the event, they said.

“It is important to present a united front...This will be the first welcome for an Indian prime minister in Britain in nearly 10 years. He is the first prime minister with a majority in 30 years. He has a clear and dynamic vision for India’s place in the world”, Mathai said.

The Wembley event, Mathai said, would “boost” the image of Indians in the UK.

Modi is scheduled to arrive here on 12 November and leave on 14 November. The Wembley event is one of several events planned for the visit, but there is some concern that it may overshadow the bilateral aspect of the visit.

Organised by the Europe India Forum headed by prominent industrialist Nat Puri, the 13 November event will also witness fireworks display and Indian cultural events. The ‘welcome partners’ include organisations and people of all religions.

Besides leaders of the 450 organisations, the event was attended by several MPs such as Keith Vaz, Virendra Sharma, Stephen Pound, leaders of the Overseas Friends of BJP, and Dhiraj Shah, president of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, UK.

Besides meeting Prime Minister David Cameron in 10 Downing Street, Modi is expected to address parliament and inaugurate a museum-cum-memorial for B R Ambedkar at the house in north London where the latter lived during his student days here in the 1920s. The house has recently been acquired by the Maharashtra government.

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