PM Modi's UAE visit targets Indian expats from poll-bound south

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 14, 2015 13:29 IST
The main focus during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates would be on getting investment and improving diaspora ties. (AFP Photo)

Unlike his previous engagements with the Indian diaspora on foreign shores, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak to a different crowd at the Dubai international cricket stadium on August 17.

The 2.6-million Indians living in the rich west Asian nation mostly have their roots in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the two southern states going to polls in 2016 and where the BJP has yet to make gainful inroads.

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, a key organiser of the event, denied any political link to the Dubai show.

“This is not a political event. This is an event where the Indian Prime Minister will be talking to Indians working in the UAE and it has nothing to do with politics.”

Read: PM to seek enhanced energy, trade cooperation during UAE visit

Indian expats in the UAE represent a cross-section of society, he said. “They are multi-lingual and multi-religious. A large number of them are Muslims and many are Christians, too. This shows the unity of a diverse Indian diaspora in the best possible way.”

Indians abroad look at India differently nowadays, said Madhav, who was drafted into the BJP from its ideological mentor, RSS. “They have seen the change after the BJP government came to power. They want to get connected with their motherland. More investments are coming in, too.”

The Prime Minister never looked at the crowd profile before an address, he explained.

“Whether you are an Indian software professional in the US West Coast or a blue-collar worker in the Gulf, you belong to India. The Prime Minister treats both of them equally.”

Read: Diaspora, infra investment on Modi’s agenda in UAE

Modi’s public events abroad have been a huge hit so far, starting with the rockstar reception he got at Madison Square Garden in New York last September and then in Australia.

The Dubai event is unlikely to be different as far as crowd enthusiasm is concerned because registration for the show had to be closed ahead of schedule after 51,000 people applied for seats at the 32,000-capacity venue.

On the tour list

The Prime Minister will visit the national monument of UAE, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, on August 17, before leaving for Dubai.

It has 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, 24-carat gold chandeliers and the world’s largest hand-made carpet. The prayer hall has of the world’s largest chandelier that weighs 12 tonnes. He will also visit Masdar, a zero-carbon city.

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