Organisers have planned what they called an ‘Olympic-style’ welcome at the Wembley stadium (capacity: 90,000) on November 13 when Narendra Modi visits Britain on the first Indian prime ministerial visit in nearly a decade.
Under a banner called Europe India Forum, the organisers said over 70,000 people were expected to attend the ‘invitation-only’ event, and claimed it would be the largest reception any foreign head of government had received here. Britain has one of the largest Indian diaspora in the world.
“It will also be the largest an Indian prime minister has ever received anywhere outside India. The reception themed ‘Two Great Nations. One Glorious Future’ will kick off with a cultural show featuring some of the very best British Indian artists”, a release from the forum on Friday said .
The last bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister was in 2006, when Manmohan Singh travelled to London. Modi is expected to arrive here on 12 November and leave on 14 November.
The release added that Modi’s address to the diaspora audience will be followed by a fireworks display, since the visit coincides with Diwali. A website created for the event is scheduled to go live on Saturday, where community organisations are supposed to register their interest in becoming ‘welcoming partners’.
The release quoted Nath Puri, a founding member of the forum, as saying: “Prime Minister Modi has emerged as a iconic figure on the world stage. This Olympics-style reception he will receive at Wembley stadium will not only reflect the respect and adulation he has within the British Indian community, but will highlight and celebrate his vision for a peaceful and prosperous India”.
It also quoted Priti Patel, Minister for Employment, as saying: “The UK Government places huge importance on the special relationship with India. Prime Minister Modi’s forthcoming visit and the community reception will only serve to strengthen the bond of friendship between our two great nations”.
The forum release also quoted messages from Labour MP Virendra Sharma; Shamsuddin Agha, president of the Indian Muslim Feederation; and Gurmail Singh Mahli, president of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall, among others.