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With One Eye on Domestic Politics, PM Modi Set for Royal Treatment in UK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the only one to have two bilateral meetings with his British counterpart Theresa May.

Zakka Jacob | CNN-News18

Updated:April 16, 2018, 12:09 PM IST
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With One Eye on Domestic Politics, PM Modi Set for Royal Treatment in UK
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Image: Reuters)
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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will undertake a four-day trip to the United Kingdom this week, his second since becoming the PM.

But this visit is extra special as he will be attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit.

The last time an Indian PM attended the CHOGM was in 2009. The last one in Sri Lanka was marred by political protests against the then Rajapaksa regime after the war with the LTTE. Pro-Tamil groups had prevented then prime minister Manmohan Singh from going for the summit.

In UK, PM Modi will be get the royal treatment. He is the only Head of Government to receive a special limousine ride to attend the summit. All other 51 heads of government will be bussed in. Prime Minister Modi will also be the only one to have two bilateral meetings with his British counterpart Theresa May. The Queen will also be hosting a dinner reception in honour of PM Modi. This is the last Commonwealth Summit that the Queen will be attending.

Modi will also address a select gathering of around 1,500 people at the prestigious Central Hall in Westminster where he will take questions from people through the NaMo app and through video conferencing.

The event is titled Bharat ki Baat, Sabke Saath and will be broadcast live. The Central Hall is an iconic building right in the heart of London where the first UN General Assembly met in 1946 right after the 2nd World War.

In the past, it has also played host to world leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. This event will help negate some criticism that the PM has not held a single press conference in his nearly four years in office.

PM Modi will also pay tribute at the statue of Basaveshwara, the 12th century philosopher who is widely considered the founder of Lingayat-ism, on the banks of the Thames River. This gesture will have enormous significance in the upcoming Karnataka election and may blunt some of the advantage the Siddaramaiah government got with its move to grant separate religion status to Lingayats.

PM Modi will also be hosted at a tech conference by Prince Charles. Both the Prime Minister and Prince Charles will arrive at the venue of the tech summit in an electric car made by Tata Jaguar which symbolises the best in Indo-UK business partnership.

The Prime Minister will also inaugurate an Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence at the University of Westminster. The Centre will bring together ayurvedic and medical professionals to conduct research in ayurveda and yoga.

Despite the glitz and glamour of his visit, Indo-UK ties have been stagnant in the last few years, especially on the trade front. Bilateral trade has been stuck at about $13 billion annually. Back in 2011, trade had peaked at close to $20 billion, only to fall since then. Britain has been pushing for a Free Trade Agreement for many years now which India has been reluctant to pursue.

Some expat Sikh and Kashmiri groups have also planned protests during PM Modi’s visit.
| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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