Gandhi’s former home gets facelift ahead of Trump’s first India visit
AHMEDABAD: India deployed more than 100,00 police and gave a facelift to the former home of independence hero Mahatma Gandhi on Sunday on the eve of a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump, whose two-day trip aims to repair bilateral relations after a trade spat.
Trump lands in the western city of Ahmedabad on Monday, where he will address a rally of more than 100,000 in a newly-built cricket stadium, before a visit to Agra’s renowned Taj Mahal and a summit with Indian officials and business leaders in New Delhi.
In Ahmedabad, a wall at least six feet high in places will block a slum from Trump’s view.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made grand visits to his home state of Gujarat a signature of his time in power, with the leaders of Japan and China both taking similar trips to Ahmedabad, the state’s largest city.
But the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump, residents and officials say, is unprecedented in scale.
On Sunday, more than ten thousand police – some mounted on camels – fanned out across the city. At the Sabarmati Ashram, the former home of India’s independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, laborers watered lawns and painted walls.
“A general facelift is being done,” said Kartikeya Sarabhai, a trustee of the organization. “(But) the beauty of the Ashram is in its simplicity.”
The modest complex is a possible 15-minute stop on Monday for Trump, whose New York penthouse is decorated in gold in the style of French king Louis XIV.
Sarabhai said that should Trump visit, he is likely to be given a charkha, a traditional spinning wheel used by Gandhi, as well as a copy of his autobiography.
“We are also considering gifting a set of (Gandhi’s) Three Monkeys, which stress on not seeing, hearing, or speaking evil,” Sarabhai added.
Preparations have not been without problems.
A 30 foot arch by the VIP entrance to the stadium expected to be used by Trump collapsed on Sunday morning due to high winds, police said, though it was quickly repaired. – Reuters