Modi looms large over Gujarat event in UK

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • |
  • Updated: May 03, 2014 13:29 IST

Britain’s decision to ‘re-engage’ with Narendra Modi touched a new high as Prime Minister David Cameron’s representative for the Indian Diaspora, Conservative MP Priti Patel, hosted Gujarat Foundation Day in the House of Commons on Thursday night.

By re-engaging with Modi in 2012, Britain was the first western country to end his boycott after the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“The sun is about to rise in India in the next 16 days” said CB Patel, a leading member of Britain’s Gujarati community, referring to election results due on 16 May, to much applause and cries of ‘Modi, Modi’. The entry of a Modi-lookalike at the venue was later similarly greeted.

Modi sent a message to the event while speakers, including Patel, included him in the past and present iconography of leading Gujaratis that included Mahatma Gandhi, Sadar Patel, Ratan Tata, and Dhirubhai Ambani.

In a message to the event, Cameron said that his government “is closely engaged not just with the Gujarati community here in the UK but also with the state of Gujarat too. Gujarat and the UK have been doing business with each other for centuries”.

The event at the heart of the British establishment — hosted by a ruling party MP, addressed by a Foreign Office minister and with laudatory messages from Cameron and leader of the opposition Labour party — indicates that official Britain is comfortable with Modi and is well placed to deal with the possibility of him leading the next government in India.

 

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