Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu today held a roadshow in the city under a heavy security blanket as thousands of people lined up along the route to greet them.
After arriving in Modi’s home state, the two leaders, along with the Israeli prime minister’s wife Sara Netanyahu, set out in a car from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport here.
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Around 50 stages were erected on the roadside along the stretch to showcase performances by troupes of different states to welcome the guests.
People carrying Indian and Israeli flags stood in large numbers on both sides of the tastefully decorated road. Modi and Netanyahu waved at the people, who greeted them with loud cheers.
The roadshow concluded at Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, after traversing 8 km. Gandhi had spent a large part of his life in the Sabarmati Ashram after he returned to India from South Africa to lead India’s non-violent freedom struggle. He left the ashram in 1930 when he took out the Dandi March from here, with a vow not to return to the place till India got Independence.
Gandhi as ‘humanity’s great prophet’
During his visit to the ashram, Israeli PM described Mahatma Gandhi as one of the great prophets of humanity.
In a four-line message jointly signed by Netanyahu and his wife Sara in the visitor’s log book at the ashram, the Israeli dignitaries said their “visit was inspiring”. “An inspiring visit to the hearth of one of humanity’s great prophets of inspiration- Mahatma Gandhi-,” Netanyahu wrote in the book.
At ‘Hriday Kunj’, Gandhi’s home in the ashram, Modi showed them Gandhi’s room and the articles he used. The two dignitaries also tried their hands at the ‘charkha’, the hand spinning wheel which was emblematic of India’s quest for self-reliance during the freedom struggle.
100 years back, Mahatma led Satyagrah in Ahmedabad in 1918. PM @narendramodi and @IsraeliPM Benjamin Netanyahu pay their homage to the father of nation at the Sabarmati Ashram. #ShalomNamaste pic.twitter.com/7A3DW911nd— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) January 17, 2018
Modi also showed kites to the Israeli prime minister, whose visit comes just a few days after ‘Uttarayana’, the popular festival of kites in Gujarat.
Netanyahu and his wife then took a try at flying kites in the ashram.
The Israeli PM is the third international leader whom Modi is hosting in his home state of Gujarat. Modi and Japanese premier Shinzo Abe had held a joint roadshow in an open jeep during the latter’s visit here in September last year.
The Indian premier had shown Abe and his wife around at the Sabarmati Ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi had stayed for a long time.
They had also spent some time at the Sabarmati Riverfront, developed during Modi’s tenure as Gujarat chief minister.
Modi had also accompanied Chinese President Xi Jinping and his spouse to the riverfront during the latter’s India visit in 2014.
Shalom Mumbai: Netanyahu to meet biz leaders, pay tributes to 26/11 victims
On Wednesday, the Israeli PM will travel to Mumbai where he will breakfast with business leaders, pay tributes to the Mumbai terror attack victims and attend a ‘Shalom Bollywood’ event among other engagements.
Netanyahu will have a ‘power breakfast’ with select captains of the industry, including Anand Mahindra, Ajay Piramal, Adi Godrej, and Chanda Kochhar.
He will later address the India-Israel Business Summit at the iconic Taj hotel in south Mumbai. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will also attend the summit, sources said.
There may be a one-on-one meeting between Fadnavis and Netanyahu after which the Maharashtra chief minister will be hosting a lunch for the Israeli premier and the visiting delegation, they said.
This will be followed by a wreath laying ceremony for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack victims. Netanyahu will then proceed to the nearby Nariman House, where he will meet 11-year-old Moshe Holtzberg. Moshe’s father Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and mother Rivka were killed at the Nariman House, during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The Jewish couple ran a cultural and outreach centre for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement at the Nariman House in south Mumbai’s Colaba area.
Moshe came to Mumbai yesterday, returning to the place where he was orphaned nine years ago. Netanyahu will later meet around 25 to 30 members of the Jewish community at the Taj hotel.
There are about 5,000 members of the Jewish community living in India, but most of them call Mumbai their home.
The city earlier had a sizable Jewish population, but around 33,000 Jews migrated when Israel was created.
Mumbai has three distinct Jewish communities—Bene Israel Jews, Baghdadi Jews and the Malabar Jews.
For them, the visit by the Israeli prime minister is about reconnecting with old friends and strengthening old bonds. Netanyahu will cap his hectic schedule by attending the ‘Shalom Bollywood’ event, also at the Taj hotel.