India pours on the pageantry with colourful welcome for Trump

AHMEDABAD, INDIA (AP) — Basking in adulation from a massive, colourful crowd, President Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi lavished each other with praise yesterday in a reaffirmation of United States (US)-India ties as the subcontinent poured on the pageantry in a joyful welcome for the US president.

More than 100,000 people packed into the world’s largest cricket stadium in Modi’s home state to give Trump the biggest rally crowd of his political career. The event was the pinnacle of the day’s enviable trio of presidential photo-ops, sandwiched between Trump visits to a former home of independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and a planned tour of the famed Taj Mahal. Nearly everyone in the newly constructed stadium in Ahmedabad in western India sported a white cap with the name of the event, “Namaste, Trump” or “Welcome, Trump”, and roared for the introductions of ‘both leaders.

Embarking on a whirlwind 36-hour visit, Trump opened his speech by declaring that he had travelled 8,000 miles to deliver the message that ‘America loves India, America respects India and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people’.

The boisterous scene featured musicians on camels and a musical medley of Bollywood hits and Trump’s campaign rally playlist, including numerous Elton John songs that seemed to puzzle most of the crowd. Trump basked in the raucous reception that has eluded him on many foreign trips, some of which have featured massive protests and icy handshakes from world leaders. In India, he instead received a warm embrace — literally — from the ideologically aligned and noted hugger Modi.

US President Donald Trump looks on as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves during ‘Namaste Trump’ rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. PHOTO: AFP