In honor of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the UK next month, Indian community groups in the UK have launched a month-long bus tour that will take riders around iconic landmarks. What is more, they have fondly named the bus – ‘Modi Express.’
The bus was launched this past Sunday and made its first stop at Ealing Road, Wembley which is popularly known as ‘Little India’. The bus then moved on to Trafalgar Square and went to celebrate Diwali there. The Indian committee, which has organized this tour, is called ‘UK Welcomes Modi.’ Talking about the tour, a member of the committee said:
“We have had ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ in India, now we will have ‘Bus Pe Charcha’ in the UK.”
Interestingly, over 400 community organizations have registered as ‘welcome partners’ for Modi’s maiden visit.
An Olympics style reception has been planned for Modi at Wembley Stadium on November 13.
Talking about the visit, Lord Dolar Popat, who inaugurated the bus with a traditional coconut-breaking ceremony said:
“This bus launch is yet another example of the UK and India bringing people together for a positive cause. As we look forward to Prime Minister Modi’s visit in November, I am so encouraged to see members from across our communities coming together and supporting one another. I hope many of you get the chance to support and participate in what is looking to be Modi Mania in the UK.”
The initiative was even promoted by Britain’s longest-serving Indian-origin parliamentarian Keith Vaz. After Popat’s inauguration of the bus, Vaz encouraged people to join him on the ‘Modi Express’ from Leicester and said:
“Even if you’ve left your oyster cards at home, be sure to bring your ‘Modi cards’ to join the ‘Modi Express’ wherever you are.”
Over 60,000 people are expected to attend the ‘UK Welcomes Modi’ reception that will take place in UK’s famous Wembley Stadium.
Tickets for the event are to be distributed in the coming weeks and people from over 250 cities and towns in the UK have applied for an invitation. Keeping up with the trend, a website for the bus will be launched next week. Talking about the website, Nitin Palan, who is a coordinator of the ‘Modi Express’ bus said:
“Our website will be going live next week. You will be able to book ‘Modi Express’ bus tickets to attend the event from all over the country.”
UK has a large population of 1.5 million Indians who are present in the UK. A large portion of this number is expected to attend the event at Wembley, which will culminate in a grand fireworks display.