A two-month old baby and a 100- year-old are among the thousands of applicants who are hoping to attend a historic reception for the Indian prime minister in the UK.
Narendra Modi is due to visit the country in November, when he will attend the largest reception for any foreign elected leader on British soil in Wembley Stadium.
Over 60,000 people will attend the event and people from over 250 cities and towns in the UK, from Dundee to Plymouth, have applied for an invitation, including the parents of the baby and the pensioner.
Ahead of the visit, a new Modi Express bus was launched on the weekend, which will tour around central London for one month. It will also visit community organisations across the country.
The bus stopped at Ealing Road in Wembley, dubbed Little India, followed by Trafalgar Square to celebrate Diwali in the capital last Sunday (11).
Lord Dolar Popat, who helped to inaugurate the bus during an auspicious coconut-breaking ceremony, said: “As we look forward to prime minister Modi’s visit in November, I’m so encouraged to see members from across our communities coming together and supporting one another. I hope many of you get the chance to support and participate in what is looking to be Modi Mania in the UK.”
The Wembley Stadium event is already oversubscribed. In total, 10 per cent of applicants for an invitation are under the age of 16.
MPs Keith Vaz, Seema Malhotra, Virendra Sharma and Steve Pound said they will donate their pay rises for November to help fund the event.
Vaz said: “The Modi event at Wembley is a defining moment for the British Indian community. I wish it was taking place in Leicester, which has the largest Indian community of any city outside India, but you cannot have everything. I am happy to donate my pay rise for the month of November to help fund this event. I am so pleased that my colleagues matched my pledge.”
The Leicester MP is calling for the Indian leader to be presented with an honorary degree from Leicester or De Montfort University in the “city that has such an affection for him”.