Trump’s 3-hour Ahmedabad Trip Left Civic Body Poorer by Rs 90 Million, Reveals RTI Query

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi greet US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump  upon their arrival at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad on February 24, 2020. — AFP

The route of Trump’s travel to the stadium had tens of thousands of citizens as well as artistes showcasing the performing arts from different states and Union Territories

Mahesh Trivedi | Clarion India

AHMEDABAD — With Donald Trump dethroned and denounced, the Narendra Modi-led Central government has finally let the cat out of the bag in its reply to a right-to-information applicant by notifying him that the former United States President’s three-hour visit to Ahmedabad last February has left the local civic body poorer by a whopping Rs 90 million.

The Central Public Information Officer in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has also just informed social activist Raj Sisodiya that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-controlled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation spent a record Rs 78.6 million on repairing 17 roads  before Trump arrived in Gujarat’s largest city on February 24, 2020.

Sidodiya, who had been making frantic efforts to obtain this information for the past few months, was told that the civic body also forked out Rs 7.2 million for bus charges for ferrying people, Rs 2.62 million for water pouches, Rs 1.1 million for beautifying two bridges on Trump’s 22-km roadshow, besides Rs 649,000 for sanitising the world’s largest, 110,000-capacity cricket stadium he later inaugurated.

The Gujarat government itself had also revealed in the legislative assembly after the former US President left India that the grand ‘Namaste Trump’ event cost the state administration Rs 80 million with the corporation also coughing up Rs 45 million.

Media reports then had also estimated that Rs 60 million was blown on beautification of Gujarat’s commercial capital, Rs 40 million on artistes and volunteers for the extravaganza and Rs 70 million for state and private transport to ferry attendees.

Trump, who was on a two-day, 36-hour first visit to Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi on February 24 and 25 as US President, was accompanied by his wife Melania and a high-level delegation who didn’t see any ramshackle slums, thanks to a 400-metre wall built along his route to block the view of the tumbledown shanties.

In the tightest-ever security measures not witnessed even during the visits of leaders from China, Japan and Israel or even Modi after his landslide win in the 2019 general elections, a record 10,000 police personnel, including 30 Superintendent of Police-rank officers, 200 inspectors, 400 sub-inspectors, 25 bomb disposal squads and 2,000 jawans of the Rapid Action Force and the Border Security Force were kept on their toes for ten days till Trump left for Agra after three hours.

The 610-year-old, world heritage city was spruced up with a fresh coat of paint on the walls around the scrubbed Sabarmati river front what with 3,000 digital hoardings and cardboard cut-outs of Modi and Trump displayed here, there and everywhere.

Indeed, the route of Trump’s travel to the stadium had tens of thousands of citizens as well as artistes showcasing the performing arts from different states and Union Territories. As many as 28 stages representing the various parts of the country were set up along the 22-km route, in what was called the India Road Show.

At the Motera stadium, Modi and Trump addressed an estimated gathering of over 125,000 people, an event which was organised on the lines of the landmark ‘Howdy, Modi!’ show arranged by the Indian Americans in Houston for Modi in September, 2019 last year in which Trump had participated.

While Gaurav Shah, an alert citizen and former executive of the Non-Resident Gujaratis Centre, said that the civic body surely went to town squandering huge funds during Trump’s whirlwind visit, Jatin Sheth, Ahmedabad’s torch-bearer for citizen empowerment, told Clarion India that the Modi government should have requested the then US President to put off the trip citing the deadly pandemic, adding that creating a huge wall to hide hapless slum-dwellers was an insult to the poor citizens and sheer foolishness on the part of the pretentious politicos.

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