Sunday Feb 23, 2020
An upbeat US President Donald Trump left for India on Sunday, tweeting "I hear it´s going to be a big event, some people say the biggest event they ever had in India. That´s what the prime minister told me".
Things could hardly be going better for the Republican as his campaign for reelection in November gathers pace, following his acquittal earlier this month after the House impeached him for abuse of power related to pressure on Ukraine.
Despite a first term dogged by near constant scandals and investigations, Trump feels he can win against the growing Democratic frontrunner, leftist Bernie Sanders, and he is clearly chuffed at the idea of huge crowds in India.
"I look forward to being with the people of India," Trump said as he left the White House on his first trip to India.
"We´re going to have many millions and millions of people," he said. "I hear it´s going to be a big event, some people say the biggest event they ever had in India. That´s what the prime minister told me."
Trump has something of an obsession with big crowds, frequently boasting about the size of his rallies, compared to those of his Democratic opponents.
Ahead of the India trip, which will see him and his wife Melania visit the Taj Mahal and attend a rally with Modi in the world´s largest cricket stadium, he has repeatedly mused on the "millions" he expects to turn out.
Enormous crowds are guaranteed during the one-night trip, given Modi´s own prowess at staging mega-rallies.
But Indian officials said they didn´t expect more than 100,000 people at any one time. The figure of millions touted repeatedly by Trump may be the result of a misunderstanding or translation problem, experts said.
Modi visited the United States last year, when he and Trump made a joint appearance before tens of thousands of Indian-Americans at a football stadium in Houston.
The US president arrives in the western state of Gujarat where Modi´s record while chief minister as a reformer and flag-bearer of Hindu nationalism catapulted him to the national stage in 2014.
However, despite the colorful celebration of the Trump-Modi friendship, the deal is not expected to include significant progress on a comprehensive US-Indian trade deal.