LONDON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the only head of state out of 52 to be transported between venues at the Commonwealth Summit in London in the luxury of a chauffeur-driven limousine. All others will travel by coach during the summit that starts on Monday.
Modi is also going to be the only head of state to have a bilateral with his UK counterpart Theresa May, a well-placed source connected with the visit said. He is also one of only three heads of state, who have been invited to hold their own private meetings with the Queen at the Buckingham Palace.
Modi is going to be the first Indian PM to attend a Commonwealth Summit since 2009.
“All heads will have to travel by coach to different events, but only PM Modi will travel by his own car. It’s these small things that show the importance attached to the PM’s visit,” the source said.
“He (Modi) is meeting the UK premier once for a bilateral and also for an event she is hosting for him. The courtesies being shown to Modi on this visit are unprecedented,” the source said, adding that this is the Queen’s last Commonwealth.
The prime minister of Pakistan is not attending the summit, but the country’s president Mamnoon Hussain is coming.
On April 18, Modi will have bilaterals all day and attend a special tech event hosted for him by Prince Charles. This event will showcase UK-India tech collaborations. Prince Charles will arrive at the event venue in a Tata electric Jaguar.
Modi, who arrives in London on April 17, would sign a MoU and unveil a plaque at the first-ever Ayurveda centre of excellence in the UK, set to open at the University of Westminster. The centre would undertake evidence-based research on the effects of yoga, Ayurveda and Indian traditional medicine.
On the evening of April 18, Modi would attend a dinner hosted by May and on the 19th, he would go to Buckingham Palace for dinner with the Queen. On April 20, the Indian premier would attend a retreat at Windsor Castle with other heads of state. “They will discuss the future of the Commonwealth as there is some feeling that it has not lived up to what it should do,” the source said.
Several groups are likely to protest against Modi’s visit. Also, as many as 1,500 NRIs would have the opportunity to ask questions to Modi at a special event to be streamed live on TV on April 18 night. NRIs from across the world have been posting selfie videos on social media with questions for the PM using #BharatKiBaatSabkeSaat.economictimes