Donald Trump visits India: Narendra Modi hails 'India's best friend' at Motera Stadium as POTUS promises $3 billion defence deal

Donald Trump addressed a massive crowd at Ahmedabad's Motera Stadium, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram and later visited the Taj Mahal in Agra.

FP Staff February 24, 2020 20:21:40 IST
Donald Trump visits India: Narendra Modi hails 'India's best friend' at Motera Stadium as POTUS promises $3 billion defence deal
  • Donald Trump addressed a massive crowd at Ahmedabad's Motera Stadium, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram and later visited the Taj Mahal in Agra.

  • Thousands of people waving flags of India and the US greeted Trump on his arrival in Ahmedabad.

  • 'The US will always be faithful and loyal friend of India. Thank you for the spectacular welcome,' Trump said.

Donald Trump, on the first day of his maiden visit to India as the President of the United States, heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made several glowing references to popular Indian icons, made a thinly-veiled remark on China, referred to terrorism and Pakistan and said that India and the US will sign a $3 billion defence deal on Tuesday.

Thousands of people waving flags of India and the US greeted Trump on his arrival in Ahmedabad. Artists from various states performed from about 30 stages and greeted Trump and Modi as they passed the route to address the "Namaste Trump" event.

The US president addressed a crowd of about 1.25 lakh people at Ahmedabad's Motera Stadium, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram and later visited the Taj Mahal in Agra. Interestingly, Trump did not make any mention of Mahatma Gandhi in his remarks in the visitors book. He wrote, "To my great friend Prime Minister Modi - thank you for this wonderful visit."

The fact that Trump failed to even mention Mahatma Gandhi was questioned by several on social media.

US is faithful friend of India, says Trump

During his address at Ahmedabad, Trump said his country will remain a "loyal" friend of India and called Modi an "exceptional leader" who works day and night for the country.

India and the US are committed to defend their people from radical Islamic terrorism, added the US president.

"India and the US are committed to fight terrorists and their ideology; that is why my government is working with Pakistan to crack down on terror groups," Trump said in the presence of his family — First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner — and top brass of his administration.

Donald Trump visits India Narendra Modi hails Indias best friend at Motera Stadium as POTUS promises 3 billion defence deal

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hug at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. AP

"The US will always be faithful and loyal friend of India. Thank you for the spectacular welcome," he added. He also announced that the two countries will firm up defence deals worth USD 3 billion on Tuesday and that the US will become India's premier defence partner.

Trump said both countries are working on a "fantastic trade" deal, and observed that Modi is a "tough negotiator".

While the US president did not make any specific commitment on trade during his speech, it is important to note, as this article points out, that the visit is aimed at showcasing India as an emerging force to a powerful leader.

During his speech, the US president also heaped praises on Modi, saying the Prime Minister is a "living proof" of what an Indian can achieve with hard work as Trump referred to his humble background as a tea-seller, who had a landslide win in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Trump said as the world's largest economy, India gives hope to all humanity and has become an economic giant. "There is a difference between a nation that rises by coercion and one that rises by setting its people free — that is India. India and the US have natural and enduring friendship," he said.

Some analysts said that the reference to "coercion" was an allusion to China, and pointed out that previous US presidents have also praised India's rise as a democratic nation.

He also touched on India's cultural diversity and riches as he highlighted the success of its blockbuster movies like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Sholay, and its sporting icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.

He highlighted the boom in the US economy under his presidency and added that India will soon be home to the biggest middle class as it will eliminate extreme poverty in in next 10 years.

On his part, Modi said Trump's visit is a new chapter in the relations between India and America. "A chapter that will become a new document of progress and prosperity of the people of America and India," he added.

Modi said the two countries also share spirit of enterprise and innovation, shared opportunities and challenges and shared hopes and aspirations. The prime minister also appreciated Trump administration's efforts in the field of health.

The biggest strength between two people or nations is trust, Modi said, while quoting an old adage that "friendship is where trust is unshakable". In the last few years, trust between the US and India has strengthened further and has reached historic levels, the prime minister said.

"What you have done for healthy and happy America is getting good results. What you are doing for children in society is admirable," Modi said.

Trump visits Sabarmati Ashram, Taj Mahal

From colour and pageantry to quieter and reflective, the mood shifted somewhat at the Sabarmati Ashram where the US president and the First Lady spent about 15 minutes.

Modi, who reached the Ashram a few minutes before the visiting dignitaries, showed the Trumps 'Hriday Kunj', a room inside the Ashram where Gandhi and his wife Kasturba lived.

Modi explained the importance of the place in India's freedom struggle. Trump and Melania tried their hands on the khadi spinning wheel, also known as the 'charkha'. "To my great friend Prime Minister Modi - Thank you for this wonderful visit," Trump wrote in the visitors book. It was also signed by Melania.

Donald Trump visits India Narendra Modi hails Indias best friend at Motera Stadium as POTUS promises 3 billion defence deal

US President Donald Trump with First Lady Melania Trump at the Taj Mahal. AP

Modi presented the "Three Wise Monkeys", signifying Gandhi's three maxims of 'see no evil', 'hear no evil' and 'speak no evil', as a memento to the US president.

At Agra, a giant billboard featuring the US president, Melania and Modi greeted the couple with a message – 'Grand welcome of India's best friend to the City of Love –Agra'.

Massive billboards bearing greeting messages dotted the nearly 13-km route of his convoy while major street roundabouts were decked up with US and India flags. Along the route, over 3,000 artistes spread over 21 designated designated areas presented dance forms of Brij, Awadh and other regions, like Krishna Lila.

Later, Donald and Melania Trump visited the iconic Taj Mahal as they marvelled at the famed 17th century Mughal-era mausoleum.

The Taj Mahal, which was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631, has been refurbished for the visit.

President Trump and the First Lady held hands as they strolled at the Taj complex and later wrote in the visitors' book. They were also briefed about the history and importance of the monument.

Trump also took to Twitter to express his sentiments about his first official visit to India, which began with a visit to Ahmedabad.

"First lady and I have travelled 8,000 miles around the world to give a message to each citizen of this country – America loves India, America respects India, and the people of America will always be true and committed friends of the people of India," the American leader tweeted in Hindi.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Senator Mitch McConnell, most powerful Republican in US Congress, privately backs Donald Trump's impeachment
World

Senator Mitch McConnell, most powerful Republican in US Congress, privately backs Donald Trump's impeachment

The Senate Majority Leader's assessment comes on the eve of a House vote to formally charge Trump for his role in whipping up a mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol

'Trump will go down as a total failure': Mitch McConnell, Proud Boys among key loyalists to desert ex-president
World

'Trump will go down as a total failure': Mitch McConnell, Proud Boys among key loyalists to desert ex-president

Trump also hinted about a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years

With Republican support cracking, President Donald Trump on brink of unprecedented second impeachment
World

With Republican support cracking, President Donald Trump on brink of unprecedented second impeachment

In the House, the number three Republican Liz Cheney said she would be voting to impeach, and called Trump's actions "a betrayal" of his office