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Flashback Xi: Why Shinzo Abe’s visit to Ahmedabad felt different

Even the photographs that emerged from the Sabarmati Ashram, a place that both Abe and Xi visited, were taken from different angles on Wednesday.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2017 21:30 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Shinzo Abe,Japan,India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at the Ahmedabad airport. (AFP/PIB)

Most of the spots Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe visited with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday may have been the same ones Chinese president Xi Jinping stopped by during his 2014 trip to Ahmedabad, but the vibe was markedly different on this occasion.

While Modi landed in Ahmedabad from Delhi half an hour before Abe’s arrival and decided to stay back at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport to welcome the visiting premier with a warm hug, it was then Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel and governor OP Kohli who received Xi on September 17, 2014. Modi met the Chinese president only after his subsequent arrival at the Hotel Hyatt.

Xi’s drive to the hotel had been without much fanfare, unlike Wednesday’s cultural show – where Modi, Abe and Japanese first lady Akie abandoned their bulletproof cars for an open vehicle and covered the eight-kilometre stretch to Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram amid music, folk dances and largescale revelry.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese premier Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, wave from an open vehicle during their roadshow in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. (PTI photo)

Even the photographs that emerged from the ashram, a place that both Abe and Xi visited, were taken from different angles on Wednesday. While Modi and Xi had tried their hand at the charkha three years ago, there was no repeat performance this time around. Sources said the Prime Minister showed Abe the charkha kept inside the Hriday Kunj, Gandhi’s room, but the two did not spin it.

The break-out areas picked by the two leaders to converse at the ashram were also different from those used on the previous occasion. While Modi shared some lighter moments with Xi sitting on the Hriday Kunj porch, he and Abe settled for a garden in the backdrop of the Sabarmati riverfront – where three sofas were placed – to exchange pleasantries.

It may be recalled that Modi had also taken Xi on an evening walk through a garden on the other end of the riverfront, and sat on sankhedas –traditional swings – installed along the way to catch a breather.

Abe and Akie left for the Hyatt only after the ashram visit had concluded.

The Siddi Saiyyed Mosque, which Modi and Abe visited on Wednesday evening, hadn’t figured in Xi’s sightseeing itinerary.

First Published: Sep 13, 2017 19:58 IST