Selfies to jackets, Modi stamp all over Vibrant Gujarat

By Jaideep Sarin,

Gandhinagar : He may have become the prime minister over seven months back but Narendra Modi seems to dominate every inch of space at the seventh edition of the Vibrant Gujarat summit here.

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Special counters can be seen at the venue, the sprawling 55-acre Mahatma Mandir Convention Centre complex comprising conference venues, exhibition halls and landscaped gardens, where computerized selfies with Modi can be downloaded on mobile phones.

Though selfies with other leaders, especially Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, are also being offered, Modi remains the biggest draw.

At any given point in time, at least two queues of people, all Modi enthusiasts, could be seen near the main convention hall.

Nearby, at another stall, ‘Modi jackets’ and ‘ Modi Kurtas’ were being sold.

Even though the event is Gujarat-centric and hosted by the state government, most of the literature and other material has Modi stamped all over.

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Well protected

With so many most-protected global leaders arriving at the venue for the summit, security agencies were stretched to their limits.

Besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country’s most protected person, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, prime ministers of Bhutan and Macedonia, ministers from the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada, Singapore and other countries, corporate czars and top CEOs – all were provided security throughout their stay. Added to that list were central and state ministers and top officials.

As the VIPs crisscrossed the city, police pilots and escorts led them with blaring sirens on the roads, an unfamiliar experience for the city not used to so many VIPs at the same time.

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All venues full

On the second day of the summit Monday, all the venues and public areas remained full with people. Seminars on various issues – from future smart cities to water issues to healthcare – were held and all seats were taken by scores of people. Even then, the corridors and open areas outside seemed full with people.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to remark that this was the biggest summit, an event that he had conceived and implemented when he was Gujarat chief minister. Leaders, corporate honchos and other delegates from over 100 countries converged for the summit this time.

Even though the focus seemed more on investment in India rather than in Gujarat alone, as was the case in previous years, much of the investment committed at the 2015 summit would go to Gujarat’s kitty.

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The delegates from the Netherlands were easily identifiable in the crowd with all of them putting on an orange scarf around their neck. Even the delegation leader, Vice Minister for Trade Simon Smits, put an orange scarf around his neck before he addressed the gathering.

With the orange colour being close to the saffron colour linked to the ruling BJP, some people at the venue thought that the foreign delegates had been ‘saffronised’! As the Dutch men and women roamed around freely with the orange scarves around their necks, they seemed amused by the attention they were drawing.