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'Howdy Modi' event in US gets huge response

Last updated on: August 27, 2019 23:00 IST

With more than 50,000 people registering for the Houston event and the numbers expected to climb, the organisers have asked those who may not be able to attend to cancel and so open up slots for the hopeful, and cautioning those coming from afar to book their air tickets soon.

P Rajendran reports.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing Indian Americans at Madison Square Garden, New York, on September 28, 2014. Photograph: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com

The 'Howdy Modi' event reached a huge milestone August 18, when it got 50,000 people registered to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak in Houston on September 22.

That was really quick, given that general registration opened August 12.

Of course, if the Indian government wanted to host a big Modi event in the continental US, where could anything be bigger than in Texas?

 

According to Jugal Malani, chair of the organising committee, the NRG Stadium, where the event is to be held, can seat 72,000 people though the organizers expect 50,000 people at attend.

Even during his maiden victory tour of the US in September 2014, Prime Minister Modi had to limit himself to 20,000, the capacity of New York's Madison Square Garden.

"Chicago, Boston, all wanted Modi to come to their town.

"Somehow they [the Indian authorities] selected Houston," Malani said.

"We have a full-fledged committee and we've formed a non-profit, the Texas India Forum."

When the event was first announced on July 27, Malani had been cautious.

"We will know in 5-10 days after we see how the registration goes," Malani had said then.

"There are many Indians in Texas, Oklahoma and surrounding areas. Lots of Indians have said they are coming over by bus. It may even be more than 50,000 people."

He was right.

Speaking for the TIF, Rishi Bhutada said that now the expected number had been exceeded, a wait list has opened up.

"We can't confirm people will get a pass," he said.

Already the TIF has put up tweets asking those who may not be able to attend to cancel and so open up slots for the hopeful, and cautioning those coming from afar to book their air tickets soon.

The entry passes are to be delivered electronically as a PDF file around September 15.

Besides the local Metrorail Red Line and transportation services like Uber and Lyft, TIF has hired several hundred buses to transport attendees.

Bhutada said that the venue would open at 7 am, and after cultural programmes lasting 90 minutes, the doors would be shut prior to Modi's speech.

The speech is to be be translated into English, with the audio being made available to smartphones and over WiFi.

P Rajendran / Rediff.com in New York
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