President Donald Trump touched down in India on Monday ready to feel the love.
He was promised crowds — big ones — by his charismatic but increasingly nationalistic counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who greeted Trump upon arrival with a hug.
And while a major trade agreement seems unlikely on this trip, Trump was more than happy to bask in the type of massive crowds that don’t typically congregate when he travels abroad (except to protest him).
Trump’s optics-heavy official visit began at the elaborate “Namaste Trump” rally in the world’s largest cricket stadium, held in Modi’s home state. A massive throng, all wearing white caps, cheered eagerly as Trump praised Indian democracy, Modi and Bollywood.
The whole event took on the atmosphere of one of Trump’s political rallies, complete with the Elton John playlist. And that, aides say, is what Trump was looking for when he agreed to travel 8,000 miles for a night in India: an uproarious reception and the biggest crowd he’s ever drawn.
Before he arrived, Trump placed his expected crowd count for his “Namaste Trump” rally in the range of 6 to 10 million, but given the city’s population of 8 million and the stadium’s capacity of 110,000, those figures seemed high.
Whatever the final number, the crowd was massive, including along Trump’s motorcade route, where thousands of hand-selected members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party welcomed him into Ahmedabad in India’s northwest.