India’s Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi Image Credit:

Dubai: More than 25,000 people are expected to attend Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi’s public event in Dubai, which, the organisers said, will be ‘an unprecedented cultural fest’ where NRI issues will be discussed.

Announcing the details of the two-day UAE visit of the Indian National Congress party’s president at a press conference in Dubai on Tuesday, senior Congress leaders said Gandhi will be the chief guest at the India-UAE cultural fest which will be held at Dubai International Cricket Stadium at 4pm on Friday.

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Under the theme ‘Gandhi 150 Years: The Idea of India,’ the event will see Rahul Gandhi talking about his idea of future India in line with the ethos of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation whose 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated.

Coinciding with the Year of Tolerance in the UAE, Rahul will talk about Gandhi’s principles of tolerance that helped India obtain freedom without bloodshed, while the cultural performances will signify the long cultural interaction between the two countries, said the organisers.

Though it comes just ahead of the general elections in India in April/May, said the Dubai event will not be a political event to canvass among the NRI vote bank in view of Non-Resident Indians gaining voting rights from abroad in the near future.

“If NRIs have a right to choose their representative in the motherland in the country because they are concerned about the development of their place, we welcome it,” said Himanshu Vyas, All India Congress Committee secretary.

“But, this [event] is not for that [to seek their votes]. This is basically to connect with the Indian diaspora, especially the younger generation, and understand their issues,” said Vyas, who is in charge of the Indian Overseas Congress.

“Definitely he is concerned about their issues and he will talk about some of them at the event.”

However, he said, people who are part of various organisations with allegiance to various parties in India, are excited to welcome Gandhi, who is seen as the next prime minister by many.

According to organisers, buses, including RTA shuttle buses from metro stations, are being arranged to transport people from various emirates to the cricket stadium.

“All people who believe in democracy and secularism are taking part irrespective of their political affiliation. People want a change,” said Puthur Abdul Rahman, president of Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre’s UAE national committee.

Gandhi is also scheduled to meet Indian workers, students and businessmen and visit Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque, to pay tributes to the UAE’s founding father Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Rahul Gandhi in the UAE

January 11, Friday — Dubai

Meeting Indian labourers and Indian university students — venue and time not finalised

India Dialogue, an interactive luncheon session with invited Indian businessmen hosted by Indian Business Professional Council in Dubai

Public meeting with Indian diaspora under the theme ‘Gandhi 150 years: The Idea of India’ at Dubai International Cricket Stadium at 4pm. Gates open at 2pm

January 12, Saturday — Abu Dhabi

Interactive luncheon session with invited Indian businessmen in Abu Dhabi hosted by Indian Business Professional Group

Visit to Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque — paying tribute to 100 Years of Zayed