Diversity is India’s pride, says Modi at thunderous Wembley spectacle

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Nov 13, 2015 23:51 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Indian community at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday. (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said diversity is India’s pride as he addressed a huge rally at London’s Wembley Stadium after a spectacle of dance and music witnessed by tens of thousands waving the tri-colour and chanting ‘Modi, Modi’ on Friday.

Modi was introduced by British Prime Minister David Cameron as a crowd of up to 60,000 roared at one of the UK’s most famous sporting venues. Modi described Cameron as a “friend of India” whose warm welcome made him feel at home. “It’s a historic day for the two great democracies,” the Prime Minister said.

“It won’t be long before there is a British-Indian Prime Minister in 10, Downing Street,” Cameron said to a thunderous reception at the stadium. “They said a ‘chaiwala’ will never govern world’s biggest democracy, but here he is,” he added.

“Prime Minister Modi said ‘acche din aane wale hain’, I say ‘acche din zaroor aaiyega’,” Cameron said as he invited Modi to address the crowd.

Read: Queen hosts Modi for lunch at Buckingham Palace, Wembley up next

Performers at the gala included singer Kanika Kapoor and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Besides pop star Jay Sean and hitmaker ‘Baby Doll’ singer Kapoor, several classical, folk art and contemporary music performances were also part of the show.

Modi, who earlier had lunch with Queen Elizabeth II on the second day of his UK visit, said: “The world sees India as a land of opportunities. And we will make sure that our nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the world.” “India is full of youth, there is no reason for us to remain poor,” the PM said. He said much water had flowed down the Thames since his last visit 12 years ago.

“If Sufism had been allowed to have more influence on Islam, no one would have ever taken up a gun in their hands,” he said. Kabir and Rahim have been inspirations for India and the Sufi tradition is the best antidote for terrorism, Modi added.

Cameron endorsed India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. “Team India, Team UK, together we are a winning combination,” he said.

Indian pop and Hindi playback singer Alisha Chinai also performed as people waited for Modi’s address. Chinai performed her evergreen single “Made in India” from the album by the same name as the cultural programme ahead of Modi’s speech kicked off in an electric atmosphere.

Artistes performing on stage at the Wembley Stadium ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech. (Prasun Sonwalkar/HT Photo)

The crowd was an estimated three times bigger than the one which turned up for Modi’s high-profile speech held at the Madison Square Garden in New York last year. And in a rare gesture, Cameron too was on stage at the Wembley.

The event was reportedly funded by the Europe India Forum, a non-profit company formed by British-Indian businessman Nathu Puri. Attendees were bussed in from around the country with a system of shuttle buses dubbed the “Modi Express”.

Read: Modi seeks UK investment in defence, railways

After his first day of the visit, Modi spent the night at Chequers, the 16th century mansion in Buckinghamshire which is the country retreat of British Prime Minister David Cameron. After a meeting with Cameron in the morning, Modi attended a roundtable with UK CEOs in London where make his pitch for the ‘Make in India’ campaign.

On Thursday evening, the two sides finalised trade deals worth nine million pounds covering six key sectors including energy, healthcare and financial services. Modi also made a pitch for investments from UK’s captains of industry during a speech at Guildhall.

Read: India, UK sign 6 deals, including £1.3-bn Vodafone investment

With inputs from agencies

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