PM Narendra Modi's Bhutan visit underlines deep feelings for India (Thimphu Diary)

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Thimphu, June 15: From school children to the local taxi driver, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bhutan has created a big splash in this small and quaint landlocked nation with the administration going all out to make the trip a major success.

Apart from lining up hundreds of schoolchildren to give a cheerful welcome to the Indian leader, who has embarked on his maiden overseas tour after assuming office last month, the Bhutan government imposed road restrictions on the entry and exit points of Thimphu as part of the security arrangements.

Those wishing to enter the sleepy capital city had to take detours after detours with the police declaring most of the routes out of bound for the people in the morning ahead of Modi's arrival.

There were hardly any people on the roads of Thimphu Sunday. Only schoolchildren could be seen sitting by the roadside or standing in queues as they awaited Modi's arrival.

On the local television channels also, Modi's visit was the main news through the day.

Narendra Modi has not only won a decisive victory in the recent parliamentary polls, he seems to have generated a keen interest even among the common people outside India. And talking to ordinary men and women here, one should not be surprised at the thorough knowledge they have about him.

Take the case of Karma Thinlay, a 50-year-old taxi driver, who plies his vehicle between the Paro airport and Thimphu. He knows about Modi's emphatic win in the elections, and the hectic campaign he led for his party.

And, like others in his country, Thinlay is also looking forward to Modi's two-day trip that began Sunday. "Bhutan-India friendship is very important. Because Bhutan needs India," Thinlay told the visiting IANS correspondent.

"He is in power for less than a month, he doesn't know fully yet about what he needs to do to further improve relations between the two countries. After this tour, he will know what to do and what not," Thinlay said

As Modi began his maiden foreign visit after becoming prime minister, raising much hope in Bhutan, the weather gods, however, seemed to be playing spoilsport. It is either a sudden downpour or a humid and hot weather. An hour of bright sunshine would suddenly give way to spells of sudden showers.

"It has been happening like this for days. The temperature will at times go up to 20 degrees celsius, and then again slip to 10 degrees," said an official at the Indian embassy.

IANS

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