Wembley stadium was freezing on Friday. I speak with authority. I was there in the press seats for five hours - at the 'UK Welcomes Modi' rally, along with 50,000 or more exuberant, impatient UK-based supporters of India's prime minister. It really had the air of a festival. Lots of Indian flags on display ... traders who usually sell to football supporters we're doing well with 'We Love Modi' scarves in India's colours at £10 a time ... and the 'mass' demos outside ended up as just 300 or so aggrieved Sikhs and Kashmiris.
David Cameron introduced Modi - a clever move. The tens of thousands in attendance vote in the UK not India - and most are natural Conservative supporters. Cameron began his brief speech with palms folded, saying: 'Namaste Wembley' - and he ended with a clever adaptation of the BJP's 2014 election slogan, 'Acchhe din zaroor aayega' (good days will certainly come). He stayed to listen to Modi's speech - sitting alongside his wife Samantha, wearing a red sari and looking comfortable in it.
And Narendra Modi's address to the rally? A master class in playing to the Wembley crowd: confident, witty, accomplished. There wasn't a huge amount of substance in it - beyond his key message: 'We don't want the charity of others - what we want is equality. India stands firmly on the same footing as everyone else.'
He spoke mostly in Hindi, but played up the Gujarati angle - announcing the start of direct flights between Delhi and the main city in Gujarat, Ahmedabad. As you might imagine, that went down well with a crowd which was probably preponderantly Gujurati.
At times, the Indian PM paused in his speech - chants of 'Modi. Modi' filled the silence. He clearly relished the adulation - after the election setback in Bihar, and with all the (well merited) concern about majoritaranism, basking in the warmth of the Wembley crowd must have been quite a tonic.
After the hour-long speech, Modi did a cup winners' style lap of the Wembley pitch, acknowledging the crowd and lapping up their love.
Wembley was clearly the highlight of Modi's three days in London - though the British government provided much more pomp (lunch with the Queen ... Red Arrows flypast ... Scots Guards guard of honour ... a night at Chequers) than is customary for a mere head of government.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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