Politico reports there were women in glitzy Indian garb dancing, Bollywood stars singing and an eclectic mix of music blaring in time to flashing lights.
And when President Donald Trump finally appeared on stage at the world’s largest cricket stadium, the sun-soaked crowd burst into a deafening, rapturous applause.
It was exactly the scene the TV star-turned president wanted.
“Namaste Trump!” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shouted to the crowd, which repeated it back to a beaming Trump.
Standing alongside Modi, Trump on Monday inaugurated the brand-new Motera Stadium, lined with 110,000 orange, yellow and blue seats — all filled. Trump is ostensibly in India to help mitigate a long-standing trade dispute while tightening U.S.-Indian relations, but Monday’s mega-rally was also designed to appeal to Indian-American voters as Trump heads into his reelection campaign.
“The First Lady and I have just traveled 8,000 miles around the globe to deliver a message to every citizen across this nation: America loves India — America respects India — and Americans will always be true and loyal friends to the Indian people,” Trump said in a speech that was translated into Hindi on a large video screen in the stadium, which sits along the Sabarmati River in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
It was a political-style rally like no other. Even Trump’s popular MAGA rallies couldn’t compare to the size and scope of the “Namaste Trump” rally.
Attendees, some wearing matching shirts from schools, companies or groups and others visiting from the United States, gradually streamed into the heavily secured stadium starting at 8 a.m., hours ahead of the rally’s start time. Traditional, folk and patriotic songs blasted from the loudspeakers, keeping things upbeat under the unrelenting sun. A pair of jumbo video screens showed Trump’s motorcade moving through the city.
Nearly everyone was wearing white baseball caps provided by organizers that featured a Namaste Trump logo across the front and both countries’ flags on the brim. Even if the crowd started streaming out before the speeches were over because of the intense heat, the stadium was consistently filled with adulation for the U.S. president.
“Trump is my favorite,” gushed Gautam Patel, wearing a “Trump, Make India Great Again” baseball cap. “I like Trump. He’s straightforward, outspoken. … He’s got the verbal diarrhea but that’s okay. … He tells how it is. I love him.”
Patel, a businessman who grew up in India but now lives outside Chicago and planned his vacation to India around the rally, said he supports Trump because he helped push through the 2017 tax cuts and his opposition to illegal immigration. “I elected him and I will elect him again,” he said.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 24, 2020
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 24, 2020