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‘The trip to end all trips,’ Justin Trudeau makes fun of his visit to India

The Canadian prime minister has seen the lighter side of his disastrous visit, making plenty of self-deprecating digs.

world Updated: Jun 03, 2018 21:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Toronto
Justin Trudeau,India,Trudeau in India
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, their son Xavier and daughter Ella-Grace paying obeisance at Golden Temple in Amritsar.(HT File Photo)

Nearly four months after Justin Trudeau’s disastrous visit of India, the Canadian prime minister has seen the lighter side of the trip, making plenty of self-deprecating digs at an event in Ottawa.

Speaking at the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner last week, Trudeau began his 15-minute speech with a slideshow showing an upside down map of India — symbolic of his visit — to howls of laughter from the gathered audience.

He came on stage as the song Jai Ho played, setting the tone for the evening, and started out greeting the audience with a “namaste”. And then he sent out a warning: “In the interest of national security, I should disclose that Randeep Sarai was in charge of the guest list tonight, so just watch your back, that’s what I’m saying.”

Sarai is the British Columbia MP who took responsibility for facilitating the presence of Jaspal Atwal during an official reception in India. The matter that went viral on Canadian media since Atwal has been convicted of an attempted assassination of a visiting minister from Punjab.

Trudeau said he wanted to “rip off that band aid,” with a “very short summary” of his visit, with the next slide showing a sad face emoticon.

“Despite the blaring wall-to-wall international ridicule, it was a pretty good trip,” he said, even as the slide of his arrival at New Delhi came up and showed him received by minister of state Gajendra Shekhawat. This was in sharp contrast to the warm welcome and hugs from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that marked the arrivals of other foreign dignitaries — an issue highlighted by the media as a “snub” from the Indian government.

Trudeau joked about the criticism he received for the often over-the-top Indian outfits he wore during that eight-day visit. A slide displayed a photo of him meeting Infosys CEO Salil Parekh, and Trudeau deadpanned: “But you guys didn’t report on its because I was wearing a shirt and tie. Boring.”

Next, a photo of Trudeau meeting Shah Rukh Khan in Mumbai came on screen, with the actor dressed in a sober dark suit and the prime minister in a golden sherwani. Trudeau said: “Well, one of us is seriously underdressed. How embarrassing for him!”

Opposition leaders too ribbed Trudeau for his trip. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer sallied forth about how Trudeau had been “very smart” in making fun of himself in the context of the visit. “You pre-empted all my jokes. India trip: That was half my material tonight,” he said.

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh complained that his main problem was Trudeau’s dance moves at an official reception in New Delhi could “turn off Canadians” from the bhangra. He then followed that up with an impromptu lesson on some bhangra steps.

Trudeau left the best (or worst) for the last, as laughter greeted the final slide showing his wife Sophie Gregoire: “What a gorgeous photo, media couldn’t stop talking about this one…such a beautiful dress.”

The photo in question was the infamous image that described the trip — Gregoire standing next to Atwal. However, in the slide, Atwal had been edited out of the photo, something Trudeau and his team would certainly wish had happened for real.

Trudeau ended his routine with a rueful: “That was India, the trip to end all trips. Seriously, I’ve told my team I’m not going anywhere ever again!”

First Published: Jun 03, 2018 20:29 IST