Red carpet for Indian PM Modi in £10bn UK visit

Modi addresses a rally in India.  He faces demonstrations over anti-Muslim riots. Picture: Getty
Modi addresses a rally in India. He faces demonstrations over anti-Muslim riots. Picture: Getty
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Britain is to roll out the red carpet for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a visit which it is hoped will seal billions of pounds in trade and investment deals.

The three-day visit - the first by an Indian prime minister to the UK in almost a decade - will culminate with a mass rally and firework display at Wembley Stadium on Friday, where he is expected to receive a rock star reception from 60,000 supporters.

His formal itinerary is expected to include lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, an address to both Houses of Parliament and an overnight stay as the guest of David Cameron at the Prime Minister’s country residence at Chequers.

Mr Cameron has visited India three times since becoming Prime Minister in 2010.

British companies are keen to win business from an ambitious programme of economic modernisation set out by Mr Modi following his election last year.

It is reported that up to £10 billion worth of deals will be signed during the course of Mr Modi’s stay, including the sale to India by BAE Systems of 20 more Hawk trainer aircraft.

However, the trip is controversial among some elements of the Indian community.

Until 2012, Mr Modi was barred from entering the UK over allegations that in 2002, when he was chief minister of Gujarat, he failed to stop anti-Muslim riots in which 1,000 people died.

While he has always denied any involvement, Muslim, Sikh and Christian groups are reported to be planning a mass demonstration outside Downing Street when he meets Mr Cameron for talks.

Keith Vaz, the longest-serving Asian MP, said: “It is a defining moment for the British Indian community which will see the Wembley rally in particular as its coming of age where it has organised through its own efforts the biggest single event ever to be addressed by a foreign head of government.”

Asked whether Mr Cameron would raise concerns about events in Gujarat in 2002 - including the murders of three Muslim British nationals during the riots - the Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman would say only “nothing is off the table”.