Washington: More than 300 Indo-American organisations from across the US have come together to give Narendra Modi a "historic public reception", when he comes here on his maiden visits as India's Prime Minister in September.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
The event is also expected to be attended by a number of US lawmakers. Held under the banner of newly-formed "Indian American Community Foundation", Modi is expected to deliver a major policy speech on Indian Diaspora from the historic Madison Square Garden in the New York City on September 28. An official announcement is yet to be made.
Given that the Madison Square Garden in Midtown Manhattan in the Big Apple, having a capacity of 18,000 to 20,000 people, is expected to be jam packed, this would be the largest ever public address by an Indian Prime Minister, or for that matter an Indian leader overseas. Modi's scheduled public reception is also said to be the largest by a foreign leader on American soil in recent memory.
And given that even mainstream a politicians have a tough time in attracting a few thousand people to their events, Modi addressing nearly 20,000 people at one venue on September 28, would be considered as a massive rally by American standards. To mark this occasion, community leaders are inviting their Congressmen to attend what they are building as "a historic reception" for a foreign leader on American soil.
A large number of US lawmakers are expected to attend the event. Also there are already talks of streaming live his Madison Square Garden event in nearly a dozen cities across the US, including Washington DC, Chicago, Houston, Boston, Tampa, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley.
Ram Madhav, the newly appointed BJP national general secretary, was in Washington and New York this week holding meetings with the community leaders to have an on-the-ground assessment of the preparations. After the civilian nuclear-deal, this is for the first time such a large number of Indian American organizations have come together on a platform.
Meanwhile, a group of Indian Americans have launched an on-line petition on the White House website congratulating President Barack Obama for extending invitation to Modi. "This petition congratulates the White House for inviting PM Modi. This occasion must be used to celebrate Indian democracy," the petition said. "We petition that the US government use this opportunity to concede its previous politically motivated visa denial to Mr Modi," said the petition which was launched yesterday.
In a related development, a top American Congressman Brad Sherman yesterday urged the Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner to have the House in Session between September 29 and October 30 so that that Modi can address a joint session of the Congress. He will meet Obama at the White House on September 30.
Citing unpredictability of the Congressional schedule ahead of the November elections, Boehner last month extended an open-ended invitation to Modi to address a joint session of the Congress. The letter was written after as many as 88 Congressmen including Sherman wrote to him in this regard. As of now, the House is expected to be not in session from September 29 to October 2.
Sherman in a statement resented against such a move. "Congress does not need or deserve a three and a half month vacation. The country faces major problems, and we must make sure that Congress is not irrelevant to solving those problems," he said. Sherman said he would be urging the House leadership to keep Congress in session the 29th of September through the 2nd of October.
"This would allow the House to address urgent legislative business as well as afford Prime Minister Modi an opportunity to address a joint session during his visit," he said. "I am pleased that 87 of my colleagues have joined me in this effort to invite Prime Minister Modi to speak before a Joint Session of Congress. The United States and India have a unique relationship based on shared democratic values. Prime Minister Modi's visit is an opportunity to further expand this relationship," he said.