After wowing and wooing millions all over the world, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to cast his oratory magic on the Indian expatriates living in Australia.
With few hours to go before the mega reception being hosted in Allphones Arena at Olympic Park in Sydney, the Indian expatriate community seems to be truly in the grip of a Modi mania.
Around 20,000 members of the Indian disapora would be in the live audience of the community reception being organised in honour of the Indian prime minister Monday evening. The organisers are also setting up big screens outside the iconic sporting venue which would enable about 5,000 additional Indo-Australians to watch Modi’s speech.
“I am so excited over attending Modiji’s function that I did not sleep last night,” says owner of a cab company Narinder Sharma while speaking to IANS in Sydney.
The excitement over the Sydney function is not restricted to the Australia’s largest city only. A chartered train dubbed Modi Express departed Melbourne last night for Sydney with 500 ‘Modi bhagats’. A large number of enthusiasts have missed the train literally as the number of the seats was restricted.
“I am really disappointed as I could not get a seat on the train for Sydney reception of the Indian PM,” says Ranjan Singh Rana while speaking to IANS from Melbourne. “I wish more tickets were given to the Melbournians,” he adds.
The number of those flying to attend the Sydney reception from Melbourne and other distant Australian cities would easily run into three figures.
Sydney may be organising the biggest overseas reception for Modi but it would not be the first down under as the Indian PM has already been received by a euphoric expat gathering when he unveiled Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Brisbane yesterday.
But it is the Sydney event which is attracting even the Australian mainstream media’s attention because of the sheer size of the audience. No overseas politician has ever received such a rockstar like reception down under in the living memory.
The organisers, the Indian Australian Community Foundation (IACF), are confident that they would host a reception which would be bigger than the one organised at New York’s Maddison Square.
While the excitement over the Allphones event is definitely palpable, a section of the diaspora is not happy over the way Modi reception is being organised. This list of dissenters includes some members of the Indo-Australian Sikh community.
“We have been really disappointed by the organisers as they did not send us an invitation to register for reception for Mr Narendra Modi,” says an audibly anguished secretary of Sikh Council of Australia Bawa Singh Jagdev while speaking to IANS.
“Even though the invitation was extended to us when we questioned the organisers, we have decided not to attend the event as an organisation. Some members of our community would be attending the event to honour the guest of Australia but they would do so in their individual capacity,” Jagdev says.
Sikh Council of Australia has however disassociated itself from any public protest against the Indian PM.
“Nothing is achieved by such protests,” says Jagdev while asserting that his organisation would give a petition to Modi through Indian diplomatic mission.
His sentiment is shared by a Melburnian car dealer Narinder Singh when he says: “Instead of staging protests against Narendra Modi, we should seek solution by sitting across the table.”
There are number of other so-called community leaders who have expressed dissatisfaction against the organisers in the media but, as pointed out by some senior diaspora figures, their protest is because they were not invited to event.
Next at Sydney:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday had a breakfast meeting with Australian and Indian businessmen, and spoke about immense investment opportunities in India.
“Met Australian & Indian businesspersons over breakfast. Talked about the immense investment opportunities India has to offer,” the prime minister tweeted.
He then left Brisbane for Sydney. “Thank you Brisbane. Leaving for Sydney. Looking forward to the Indian community programme,” he said.