Rock star Prime Minister
It was purely a ‘bhai- bhai’ show at the Ricoh Coliseum. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his spouse Laureen spend more than one and half hours enjoying the ‘Modi Mania’. Laureen, clad in a traditional Indian sari, was more like a family member to the Indian crowd. What a befitting costume to attract the entire Indian diaspora! That’s the politics of identifying with the culture and tradition.
It was undoubtedly a political show for both the Prime Ministers. Greeting in different languages, Jason Kenney, Minister of Multiculturalism, thrilled the crowd and proved that he is the most eligible one for the portfolio. It was with the call of Kenney to celebrate the night with jubilant Modi, the podium was opened for the leaders.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was again in a ‘rock-star’ mood. He took a round to wave the audience from all angles while people chanted Modi, Modi, Modi… Madison Square at NewYork and Allphones Arena at Sydney were earlier witnesses to the Modi show. But the one at Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, outshined the other two, with the presence of Stephen Harper & Co. A bunch of members from his caucus were present throughout the reception organized by National Alliance of Indo-Canadians (NAIC).
It was PM Harper who welcomed Modi to the dais, with a reminder that it was Canada who reached out to Narendra Modi and Gujarat when others were hesitant to do so. Harper too got the share of applause and chants whenever Modi mentioned his relation to Canada and it’s Prime Minister. Modi too expressed his gratitude to Canada and Harper for being a partner in the ‘Gujarat Vibrant’ event from 2003. It was a public endorsement for Stephen Harper in front of the ‘mini India’ at Ricoh Coliseum.
At one point Modi asked: ‘India + Canada, can you imagine the strength of these two countries joining hands?’ And the most affectionate statement of the day was that ‘I came here yesterday, I will go back tomorrow, but I can never forget your love’.
The crowd literally enjoyed each and every word, phrase and political satires in the one hour and 10 minute long articulated discourse in Hindi. The highlight was the reference on the 42 years of dryness in a bilateral visit. ‘It is only 16-20 hours to reach Canada from India. We have even met in space. But it took 42 years for a Prime Minister to visit Canada. At least for me, it was only a matter of 10 months…’. His declaration that ‘scam India’ will be transformed to ‘skill India’ was also welcomed by the crowd with a thunderous applause. As usual, Modi ‘syringed’ the Indian pride by asking the spectators to repeat the slogan ‘Vande Mataram’.
It was Stephen Harper, followed by Laureen who came up to congratulate the crowd puller of the day. Modi, who too was excited on the crowd support, held the hands of Prime Minister Harper and jointly waved the fans. It was a different ball game for Ricoh Coliseum, the venue for Canada’s dearest sport Ice Hockey and Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). Though there were some glimpses of protests, for Modi and Harper, it was the bonding of a ‘brotherly’ bilateral kinship.