Amid Trump, Modi's mutual praise, audience began leaving stadium

Ahmedabad, Feb 24
The enthusiastic fervour at 'Namaste Trump' show here on Monday started decreasing by afternoon as the sections of the audience began leaving the Motera stadium after hours under a scorching sun even as US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi lavished praise on each other.

Facing direct sunlight since 9 a.m. at the stadium, claimed to be world's largest with a seating capacity of 1.10 lakh people, spectators showed their high zeal till 1.40 p.m. when Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and Modi came on the stage.

The crowd, estimated to over 1.25 lakh, cheered when the two leaders initiated their address with "Namaste" and praised each other.

On the stage, Trump in a suit and neon yellow tie waved to crowds and hugged Modi. Trump's daughter Ivanka was mobbed for selfies by excited spectators.

But then the gathering, assembled from across Gujarat and even outside the state, began losing patience when Trump's speech continued for over 15 minutes as he kept on praising Modi calling him "champion" and citing works he did in last five years for the welfare of India.

Thousands left the stadium during Trump's over 30 minute speech in which he stressed that "America loves India, respects India and will be faithful to India", and also praised its unity in diversity as well as economic capability.

However, many among the crowd kept on sitting on their seats braving the sun and contued cheering and clapping when Trump referred to great works of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi, and holy river Ganga as well as religious places like Jama Masjid and Golden Temple.

People applauded loudly when he named cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli and also mentioned Bollywood classic movies like "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" and "Sholay". The Aditya Chopra-directed DDLJ was a hit when it came in Indian theatres in 1995 while Bollywood classic Sholay broke all past records when it waa released in 1975.

"All over the planet, people take great joy in scenes of Bhangra and music, dance, romance, and drama and classic Indian films lile DDLJ and Sholay," Trump said.

"India is a creative hub that creates over 2,000 movies from Bollywood. India embraces liberty, rule of law and freedom. Even though there are so many communities and languages, you all unite as one great Indian nation."

Trump lauded his "phenomenal welcome" in Ahmedabad on his maiden visit to India as US President in which he was accompanied by First Lady, his daughter and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Modi, who spoke first, began by asking the crowds to chant "long live" while he repeated "India-US friendship." Calling the event "historic," he described the "Howdy Modi" event in Houston he had participated with Trump five months ago. He referred to Trump as his "friend," and said the world's biggest democracy welcomed him.

His introductory remarks also could not stop the crowd which was shouting "Modi, Modi, Modi", and "Modi Hai To Mumkin Hai" as the event began.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)