The Indian prime minister is arranging the grandest of welcome parties for Donald Trump. All the more so since the US president arrives today (Feb. 24) in Ahmedabad, Narendra Modi’s home turf, for a two-day visit to India.
While Gandhinagar is Gujarat’s capital, Ahmedabad is its business centre, home to large corporations such as the Adani Group and Torrent Pharma besides the elite Indian Institute of Management.
In this western Indian city, pavements have now been given a fresh dash of colours, roads have been repaired—some new ones even constructed within a week—and shantytowns blotted out of sight.
On landing for his maiden official India visit, Trump is slated to accompany Modi on a 22-kilometre roadshow, beginning from the airport and culminating at the Sardar Patel Stadium where the duo will host the Namaste Trump event. This route has been barricaded for people to line the road, watch, and cheer their cavalcade.
A wall has also been built along the route to hide slum dwellings that fall on this route. This wall is now such a landmark that even cabbies are aware of its political implications.
Throughout Gujarat’s largest city, with over eight million people, hoardings and banners celebrate the Trump-Modi friendship. Some of them are effusive in self-praise: “The world’s oldest democracy,” “The world’s largest democracy,” and “The world’s biggest cricket stadium.”
A day before the mega show, the city founded by medieval king Ahmed Shah in 1411 AD appears to be almost under siege, with security personnel from various agencies patrolling and sanitising several areas. The many Gujarat police departments have been allocated separate zones, though some cops that Quartz spoke to weren’t still clear about the exact plan and schedule of the spectacle.
For several patches along the airport-stadium route, the police have to be extra vigilant. “This is a particularly sensitive area because it doesn’t have buildings that we can inspect. The trees and shrubs in the open tracts of land have made it imperative for us to have our constables inside these areas too,” said YB Gohil, an inspector with Gandhinagar Police.
The shopkeepers and residents abutting what is the world’s largest cricket stadium have been told that they might have to stay indoors during the duration of the high-profile visit. “We really want to attend, but they won’t give us a pass. I’m sure we’ll have to keep our shop shut,” said a tea vendor.
The road outside the stadium was also fumigated for mosquitoes.
The local administration is also concerned about last-minute bloopers. A temporary gate at the stadium collapsed yesterday (Feb. 23), the exact kind of snafu officials would want to avoid today.