This is also because Johnson’s visit will follow at the end of Modi’s three-day visit to Gujarat for inaugurating projects, reports Vinay Umarji.
Unlike in the cases of other heads of government or state such as Japan’s Shinzo Abe, China’s Xi Jinping, or Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be accompanied by his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on his first visit to Gujarat.
The first UK prime minister to visit Gujarat, Johnson will begin his two-day visit to India with Modi’s home state on April 21, ahead of “in-depth” talks with the latter in New Delhi on April 22.
During their visits in 2014, 2017, and 2018, Jinping, Abe, and Netanyahu had Modi accompanying them for a roadshow during their visit to Ahmedabad, along with a trip to the Sabarmati Ashram.
Contrary to previous instances, by Tuesday the route between Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (SVPIA) and the Sabarmati Ashram was without any banner or barricade meant to hold the crowd during roadshows.
Similarly, the Sabarmati Ashram too had a deserted look without any signage that is otherwise typical of a visit by a head of state or government, till Tuesday late afternoon.
According to sources, this is also because Johnson’s visit will follow at the end of Modi’s three-day visit to Gujarat for inaugurating projects including the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar in the presence of WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.
Modi is scheduled to be in Gujarat till April 20. He will travel from Gandhinagar to Dahod before returning to the capital.
“The ministry of external affairs schedule requires the prime minister to be back in New Delhi by Wednesday. However, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel will be hosting the UK PM on Thursday. Work will soon begin on hoarding and signage welcoming him to PM Modi’s home state,” said a source.
While Johnson’s itinerary is closely guarded, he is likely to land in Ahmedabad early on April 21 before heading to the Sabarmati Ashram, where, as has been the tradition, he will be shown how to run the “charkha”.
“We have not received his itinerary yet and so we cannot comment on the preparations,” a senior state government official told Business Standard.
Sources said accompanied by government and business delegates like JCB Chairman the Lord Bamford DL, Johnson is likely to travel to Vadodara for the launch of the company’s export-focused plant in Halol.
Johnson’s closed-door meetings with business top guns such as Gautam Adani are on the cards.
There is speculation that Johnson will visit the state’s international financial services hub at GIFT City but this could not be confirmed.