New Delhi: US President Donald Trump reached the NRG stadium in Houston, Texas, more than an hour late for the ‘Howdy, Modi’ rally as he made a surprise last-minute pit stop at the Ellington Air Force Base on his way to the event venue from the airport.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reached the stadium, packed with nearly 50,000 Indian-Amercians, at 9.20pm (IST) and received a rousing reception from the crowd. He was welcomed by Houston Mayor Sylvestor Turner and US lawmakers from all over the country.
But Trump, who was to address the crowd before Modi, only reached at 10.25pm (IST) as he received a briefing on the flood situation in Houston after heavy rains over the last few days. According to the event schedule, Trump’s speech was to start at 9.39pm (IST) and run for half an hour, after which the PM was to speak.
But he was believed to be worried about the optics of going straight to the celebratory event during the floods, which has claimed the lives of at least five persons. PM Modi exited the stage and returned later once the US President arrived.
Before leaving from Washington, Trump said he was looking forward to address 'Howdy, Modi' rally and that he and his "friend" Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a "good time" at the mega event.
"Will be in Houston to be with my friend. Will be a great day in Texas!" Trump tweeted. Responding to Trump's tweet, Modi said he was looking forward to meet the US leader in Houston.
"We'll be going to Houston and we'll be at a very nice big stadium packed full of people with Prime Minister Modi," Trump told reporters on the South Lawns of the White House in Washington before he left for Houston.
"He (Modi) asked if I would go with him and I've accepted and We're going to have a good time," Trump said minutes before he boarded Marine One from the White House lawns. "I hear it's a tremendous crowd," he added.
Organised by the non-profit Texas India Forum, the event, with the tagline 'Shared Dreams, Bright Futures', will shine light on the tremendous contribution of Indo-Americans in United States and the strong and lasting partnership between the US and India.
The cultural programme preceding Prime Minister Modi's address, showcasing Indian-
American artists from Texas and elsewhere, portrayed how the community is woven into the larger tapestry of American life. It will involve broad-based community participation across the United States.
The 90-minute music, dance, and multimedia show featured close to 400 artists and community members from Texas and across the nation.