Gharibi chupao: Trump's India visit preparation shows ‘slave mentality’ by Modi
Modi government accused of 'hiding' poor people ahead of US president’s visit to Gujarat
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India is accused of hiding its poor on the occasion of American president’s visit on February 24.
US President Donald Trump will be visiting India next week, with his packed schedule including a stop in Gujarat, the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
All eyes will be on the capital, Ahmedabad, where Mr Trump has said he is expecting millions of people to welcome him. But some locals are not looking forward to his visit. The source of their ire - a wall, reports BBC.
India has denied trying to hide poor people from Donald Trump - despite building a brick wall alongside a slum the US president is due to be driven past.
Ahead of Mr Trump's visit to Ahmedabad, the 400-metre barrier has been put up for "security reasons, beautification and cleanliness", government official Bijal Patel said. But resident Keshi Saraniya said: "Why are they hiding us poor people? Why not use (the money) to improve our slum and provide better facilities for us?"
An event called Namaste Trump, which translates as Greetings Trump, is due to be held at the largest cricket stadium in the world and is likely to resemble the Howdy Modi rally attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston last September.
News reports said the wall was originally planned to be 6-7ft (1.8-2.1 meters) high but was reduced to 4ft (1.2 meters) after it received widespread publicity.
A senior government official, Bijal Patel, said the wall was built “for security reasons” and not to conceal the slum. “Apart from security reasons, the wall is also part of a beautification and cleanliness drive,” she said.
Several political leaders were quick to criticize the wall’s construction, questioning Modi’s development work in his own state. Modi was chief minister of Gujarat for 12 years before becoming the country’s prime minister in May 2014.
Authorities also served eviction notices to 45 families living in another slum area near the cricket stadium. The residents said they were asked to leave because of the upcoming event, but the city’s civic body denied it.
“We have been living here for the last 20 years and now we are suddenly being told to vacate because some important leader is visiting this city for a day,” said Sanjay Patani, a resident. “This is injustice.”
Kishore Varna, a government official, said the land belongs to the civic body and evictions were done under the law. He did not say why the eviction notices were sent just days ahead of Trump’s visit.
Hardliner Shiv Sena said the ongoing preparation for the much-awaited visit of Trump is a reflection of the "slave mentality" of Indians. Trump's India trip is like the visit of a "Badshah" (emperor), an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said.
Taking a dig at the construction of a wall on a plot having several slum structures in Ahmedabad ahead of Trump's visit there, the Sena said the US president's trip would neither stop the fall of rupee's value in forex market nor offer betterment to those (slum dwellers) behind the wall.
"Before Independence, British King or Queen used to visit one of their slave nations like India. The kind of preparations going on from taxpayers' money for the arrival of Trump is similar to it. This reflects the slave mentality of Indians," it said.
The Sena also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's (AMC) move to build a wall on a plot to "hide the slums" on the route through which Trump's convoy would pass.
"Former prime minister Indira Gandhi had once given the slogan 'Ghariri Hatao', which was ridiculed for a long time. It seems now Modi's plan is 'Gharibi chupao' (hide poverty)," the Marathi publication said.
Is there any financial allocation for such a wall being built in Ahmedabad? Is the US going to offer loan to India to build such walls across the country? it wondered. "We have heard Trump is going to be in Ahmedabad for only three hours but the wall construction is costing almost Rs100 crore to the state exchequer," it said.
It is basically a political arrangement between Prime Minister Modi and US President Trump, the Sena claimed.
Trump, who has pledged to build a wall along America’s border with Mexico to stop people from entering the US, is visiting India on 24-25 February. His visit is aimed at smoothing ties strained by trade disputes and could also allow him to woo tens of thousands of Indian American voters ahead of the US presidential election.
Trade tensions between the two countries have escalated since the Trump administration levied tariffs on steel and aluminium from India. India responded with higher tariffs on agricultural goods and restrictions on US medical devices, prompting the US to retaliate by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade programme.