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Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, Benjamin Netanyahu: Why PM Narendra Modi is Hosting World Leaders in Ahmedabad

Political observers believe this is the Prime Minister's strategy to showcase development projects initiated by him as the Chief Minister of the state to world leaders and emphasise on decentralisation experiments that he has been working on.

Meghdoot Sharon | CNN-News18

Updated:January 14, 2018, 8:51 AM IST
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Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, Benjamin Netanyahu: Why PM Narendra Modi is Hosting World Leaders in Ahmedabad
PM Narendra Modi hugs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)
Ahmedabad: A host of world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, have been hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad, ever since he came to power in 2014. Next week PM Modi will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the city as well.

What makes Ahmedabad so important in PM Modi's scheme of things, making it appear like the second capital of the country?

Political observers believe this is the Prime Minister's strategy to showcase development projects initiated by him as the Chief Minister of the state to world leaders and emphasise on decentralisation experiments that he has been working on.

In September 2014, pictures of PM Modi and his Xi Jinping on a swing at the Sabarmati riverfront was widely showcased in publications and websites across the world, apart from being beamed live on hundreds of television channels in India and abroad. The following day, both heads of state held a bilateral dialogue in New Delhi but the visuals of the two at Sabarmati riverfront were still running on television screens.

In September 2017, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited India to lay the foundation stone of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, PM Modi’s home state was given preference over the financial capital of the country. While visiting the Siddhi Saiyad Mosque in the walled city, Shinzo Abe was driven along the Sabarmati riverfront to get him a glimpse of the project.

Most recently, on the last day of campaigning for the Gujarat assembly election, PM Modi again chose Sabarmati River for his seaplane take-off and landing. While the event did attract huge viewership for Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, it also projected Ahmedabad as a frontline city where an additional avenue for transportation could open.

Talking about this shift from convention by the current Prime Minister, senior journalist and political commentator Darshan Desai said, “PM Modi's agenda of hosting top international leaders in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar instead of Delhi is a well thought out move. This is about showcasing Ahmedabad and its famous projects as his own model of development as Chief Minister.”

Desai added that hosting leaders in cities other than Delhi is in line with the decentralisation move. “When Modi was Gujarat CM, occasions like Independence Day and Republic Day functions were held in various district headquarters of Gandhinagar. Now that he is PM, he is attempting the same strategy.”
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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