Sydney: Prime Minster Narendra Modi is guaranteed another rock star reception, this time at the famous Sydney Olympic Park next Sunday. There is excitement, long queues for tickets, a scramble for the best passes and even a spot of controversy.
PM Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Australia since Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 and the massive reception planned at the Sydney park will rival the reception he received at New York's Madison Square Garden in September.
About 18,000 people had attended the New York event; Sydney expects over 27,000 members of the Australian Indian community. A special train - the Modi Express - will run from Melbourne to Sydney ferrying hundreds of Australian Indian supporters.
Amid the excitement there is also some controversy. Some members of the community have objected to the way the "big Modi show" is being handled by the Indian Australia Community Foundation, a new body set up for the event.
The foundation consists mainly of members of the Overseas Friends of BJP and the Hindu Council and some other organisations say they have been left out of preparations. "They have formed this organisation only for this event. They registered it on October 14 and then came to the public through their website which they have based on the US model. It is not as though this is a community event - they are using other community organisations merely as ticketing partners to gather the crowds. The process of the formation of this organisation has been undemocratic. We have not been involved in cultural programming either, they have picked based on their preferences," said Tamil Arts and Culture Association president Anagan Babu.
The organisers deny this. Nihal Agar, chairman of the newly formed Indian Australian Community Foundation, who is also chairman of the Hindu Council, said, "Just because I come from the Hindu Council doesn't mean that this is a Hindu Council event. This is a community event where 200+ organisations have come together to organise this reception. Those who are alleging this is undemocratic are wrong and have mal-intentions. Let us not take the focus away from such a historic event."