Ahmedabad: The city of Ahmedabad is preparing to give a grand welcome to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe who will arrive here on Wednesday on a two-day visit to Gujarat, Modi’s home state.
After arriving on Wednesday afternoon, the two leaders will take part in a cultural roadshow—a pageantry running 8km from Ahmedabad airport to Sabarmati Ashram.
“The roadshow is scheduled to be held between 4pm to 5pm in which Indian states will display their cultural heritage through traditional dance performances like Bhangra, Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Garba, etc. Students will perform yoga and there will be musical and other cultural programmes as well as part of the cultural roadshow," said Ahmedabad municipal corporation commissioner Mukesh Kumar.
Hoardings of the two leaders have come up in various parts of Ahmedabad.
The Sabarmati riverfront, with its heritage structures including the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, has been decorated ahead of the Modi and Abe visit. Ahmedabad was recently conferred the World Heritage City tag by UNESCO.
After visiting the Sabarmati Ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi lived between 1917 and 1930, the two leaders are likely to visit Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, according to a government official who did not wish to be named.
They will have dinner at Agashiye restaurant in the House of MG, a well-known heritage hotel in the walled city area of Ahmedabad, he added.
Abe’s visit is seen as part of his efforts to consolidate the bilateral relationship between Japan and India, which was given a new thrust and heft under his leadership in 2012.
In the last six months, this would be the third roadshow by Modi in his home state, which is scheduled to go to elections by December. His present visit is expected to set the tone for the election campaign of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“This is for the first time in the country when our Prime Minister along with the Prime Minister of another country is doing a joint roadshow," Gujarat BJP unit president Jitubhai Vaghani told reporters.
Japan sees India, a democracy like itself, as a natural ally, especially to counter China. The two countries are keen to broaden and deepen their bilateral engagement—especially economic ties.
On Thursday, the two leaders will inaugurate the Rs1.1 trillion high speed rail project, popularly called the bullet train that will run between Ahmedabad and Mumbai by laying the foundation stone at Sabarmati station—the planned first terminal on the route. Japan is extending a soft loan of around Rs88,000 crore for the project, at an interest rate of 0.1%, to be repaid in 50 years with a 15-year grace period.
The meeting between Modi and Abe on Thursday for the 12th India-Japan Annual Summit will be held later on Thursday at Mahatma Mandir Convention Centre in Gandhinagar where a series of MoUs worth billions of dollars in investments are expected to be signed between the two countries.