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The foursome who were tasked with Gujarat's welcome for Xi

By Sheela Bhatt
Last updated on: September 17, 2014 16:38 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Chinese President Xi Jinping outside the Hyatt hotel in Ahmedabad. Photograph: Courtesy MEA’s Facebook account


Four Gujarat ministers were handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to organise the reception for Chinese President Xi Jinping, right from the welcome at the airport to the menu for the dinner at the Sabarmati riverfront, reports Sheela Bhatt.

Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Manubha Chudasama, Minister of Health Nitin Patel, Finance Minister Saurabh Patel, and Minister of Social Justice Ramanlal Vora were engaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to supervise the complete arrangements for Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Ahmedabad.

Modi's vision was to give a memorable introduction of the culture of Gujarat to President Xi, said Nitin Patel while talking to Rediff.com.

He said, "We have selected the Dangs and Kathiawad's dance troupes and the best of shamianas which we erect in the desert during the famous Kutch festival."

All the ministers were reluctant to share details of the welcome planned for Xi due to security reasons, but they were visibly excited by the visit and the assignment given to them.

Interestingly, the who's who of Gujarat's business and industry will not be joining the most-discussed dinner on the Sabarmati riverfront. Around 40 businessmen residing in Gujarat have been invited to share tea with President Xi. RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani does not live in Gujarat and so won’t be attending it.

However, industrialists of the stature of Gautam Adani to Sudhir Mehta of Torrent group will be interacting with Xi Jinping at the Hyatt over tea and snacks before he leaves for the Sabarmati ashram.

In fact, at the riverfront, only 22 people will be on the high table, 11 from each side. Modi will be joined by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and seven ministers, and one or two top officers from Gujarat and the ministry of external affairs.

The menu, Gujarat’s gifts for Xi, details of the cultural show have all been finalised by the Prime Minister’s Office and Gujarat government while the MEA has scant details of the same.

The shamiana on the riverfront is air-conditioned as the temperature in Ahmedabad hovers around 33 degrees centigrade. The shamiana is quite similar to what the erstwhile royals would have when they went on hunts in jungles. The mornings are pleasant at 24-25 degrees.

One of the ministers, when asked about the menu, said, "How many items can you make out of wheat in a Gujarati kitchen? You can write all of them." What he meant was that crispy bhakhris and theplas will be served to President Xi Jinping.

In fact, many businessmen want Modi to take up the issue of ceramic industry with Xi as China has completely taken over the Morbi tiles industry. The Morbi trade association wants an "anti-dumping duty" levied against the Chinese dumping of ceramic goods.

However, Gujarat’s idea is to show its historic, cultural and modern face, so the demand for anti-dumping duty will have to wait.

Image, middle: (left) Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama. Photograph: Sheela Bhatt/Rediff.com.

Image, bottom: Gujarat ministers Ramanlal Vora, Vasuben Trivedi and Nitin Patel. Photograph: Sheela Bhatt/Rediff.com.

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Sheela Bhatt in Ahmedabad
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