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Modi to address major televised event during UK visit in April

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London, Mar  29 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address a major globally televised event during his three-day visit to the UK next month to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ is being billed as a “niche event”, which will take place in a broadcast studio setting in central London on April 18.

A few hundred guests picked out by an open ballot following registrations on will get the chance to participate in the moderated question and answer session with the Prime Minister.

“A unique niche event is being planned in London on April 18. Titled as #BharatKiBaatSabkeSaath, it will be a one of its kind live interactive conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Vijay Chauthaiwale, in-charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Foreign Affairs Department, announced on Twitter.

The Prime Minister will arrive in London from Sweden and hold a series of bilateral meetings, including with British Prime Minister Theresa May and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II, expected on April 18.

On April 19 and 20, he will take part in the CHOGM discussions along with heads of government from other 52 member-countries of the Commonwealth.

The visit has been dubbed as “historic” within diplomatic circles as this would mark an Indian Prime Minister’s presence at CHOGM for the first time since 2010. Modi had been reportedly invited personally by the Queen in a letter addressed to him.

“It is a great time for India and it is exciting to see the energised way in which new opportunities are being taken up,” Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, had recently said in reference to India’s enhanced role within the organisation.

According to her, the 53 member-countries will also take a decision on appointing a successor to the 91-year-old monarch as the Head of the Commonwealth during the summit in London and Windsor.

The Heads of Government Meeting on April 19 and 20 will be preceded by the Commonwealth Business Forum between April 16-18, which will bring together hundreds of business people and stakeholders from across the 53 Commonwealth countries.

“Participation from Indian businesses to the Commonwealth Business Forum is just staggering in terms of the calibre, range, innovation and dynamism,” said Richard Burge, CEO of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), who will be leading the trade and business strand of the agenda.

Modi’s last visit to the UK took place in November 2015, when he had addressed a massive gathering of the Indian diaspora in Britain at Wembley Stadium in London.

As was the case then, a few UK-based groups have indicated plans to hold protests at some of the venues Modi is likely to visit. This will include a demonstration by Sikh Federation UK, which says it wants to register its protest over what it believes is the torture of 31-year-old Scottish Sikh Jagtar Singh Johal in Nabha Central Jail in Punjab.

Mark Field, Minister of state in-charge of Asia and the Pacific in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), had said during a Westminster Hall debate in the UK Parliament complex earlier this month that he would “try” to see if the issue of Johal’s arrest can be raised with Modi during CHOGM.