Trump tours Taj Mahal, draws large crowds on India state visit

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8:16 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Hours ahead of Trump's arrival in New Delhi, clashes erupt over citizenship law 

Demonstrators gather in the street following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law, in the Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on Monday.
Demonstrators gather in the street following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law, in the Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on Monday. Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

New Delhi police are attempting to restore order after clashes during a protest over a contentious citizenship bill left a police constable dead Monday, just hours ahead of Trump’s arrival.

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for calm, tweeting: "Very distressing news regarding disturbance of peace and harmony in parts of Delhi coming in." He urged the home minister to "restore law and order" and ensure "peace and harmony is maintained."

Protests have swept across India since December, when the country's parliament passed a bill that would give Indian citizenship to immigrants from neighboring countries -- but not if they are Muslim. Opposition parties say the bill is unconstitutional, as it bases citizenship on a person's religion and would further marginalize India's 200-million strong Muslim community. 

Delhi's Metro rail service tweeted Monday that two stations in the area of the protests -- Jaffrabad and Maujpur-Babarpur stations -- would be closed Monday, for security reasons. The train stations are around 10 miles from where President Trump is expected to attend an event on Tuesday.  

The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi tweeted Monday that he has instructed Delhi Police and the Delhi Commissioner of Police to ensure law and order is maintained. "The situation is being closely monitored. I urge everyone to exercise restraint for maintenance of peace and harmony," he said.  

CNN has reached out to New Delhi Police for comment. 

7:09 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Trumps tour Taj Mahal, holding hands

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tour the Taj Mahal in Agra on Monday, February 24.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tour the Taj Mahal in Agra on Monday, February 24. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump and the first lady took in the view of the Taj Mahal on Monday from an open courtyard, framed by hundreds of blooming plants in all different colors.

The couple signed a guest book before strolling together along a reflecting pool. A guide spoke to the pair as they walked.

Eventually, they emerged in front of the famous domed facade, holding hands as the late-afternoon sun set the white marble aglow.

Standing in front of the iconic symbol of lasting love, the Trumps stood for a while hand-in-hand before walking back toward the mausoleum.

Trump gestured to photographers and joked, “do you want to do a press conference now?”

“It’s truly incredible,” Trump said.

The first lady described the monument as “lovely” and “beautiful.”

6:55 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Trump weighs in on Democratic presidential race, Afghanistan peace deal

President Donald Trump spoke to reporters about his visit to India, the Democratic presidential primary race and a potential Afghanistan peace deal as he flew on Air Force One from Ahmedabad to Agra.

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump disembark from Air Force One upon their arrival at Agra Air Base on Monday.
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump disembark from Air Force One upon their arrival at Agra Air Base on Monday.

On his visit to India:

“I thought it was fantastic," Trump said, referring to the "Namaste Trump" rally in the Ahmedabad cricket stadium. “They worked really hard.”

“I am in no rush” for a trade deal, Trump said. “We are doing well with India, we are making deals.”

Trump says he's never been to the Taj Mahal (note: Trump once owned a casino by the same name in Atlantic City). “I hear it’s incredible," Trump said. "I think it’s going to be amazing."

On the Democratic race:

“It could go to the convention, it really could," Trump said.

“They are going to take it away from Crazy Bernie, they are not going to let him win...I actually think he would be tougher than most of the other candidates because he is like me but I have a much bigger base.”

On a potential Afghanistan peace deal:

“It has received tremendous support," Trump said.

6:56 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

The Trumps arrive in Agra for Taj Mahal tour

Performers wearing traditional costumes greet President and first lady Trump in Agra.
Performers wearing traditional costumes greet President and first lady Trump in Agra. Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP

President Trump’s arrival in Agra was a colorful affair, with dancers and drummers wearing peacock feathers welcoming him on another red carpet.

Trump smiled and clapped along to the music as he walked with first lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. He took in each different performance, including dancers in vibrant horse costumes and musicians blowing horns.

5:57 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Trump lands in India and feels the love

Indians wave at President Trump's motorcade in Ahmedabad, India, on Monday.
Indians wave at President Trump's motorcade in Ahmedabad, India, on Monday. Credit: AP Photo

President Donald Trump touched down in India on Monday ready to feel the love.

He was promised crowds -- big ones -- by his charismatic but increasingly nationalistic counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who greeted Trump upon arrival with a hug.

And while a major trade agreement seems unlikely on this trip, Trump was more than happy to bask in the type of massive crowds that don't typically congregate when he travels abroad (except to protest him).

Trump's optics-heavy official visit began at the elaborate "Namaste Trump" rally in the world's largest cricket stadium, held in Modi's home state. A massive throng, all wearing white caps, cheered eagerly as Trump praised Indian democracy, Modi and Bollywood.

Indians display their passes as they arrive to attend the Namaste Trump event in Ahmedabad.
Indians display their passes as they arrive to attend the Namaste Trump event in Ahmedabad. Credit: Ajit Solanki/AP

The whole event took on the atmosphere of one of Trump's political rallies, complete with the Elton John playlist. And that, aides say, is what Trump was looking for when he agreed to travel 8,000 miles for a night in India: an uproarious reception and the biggest crowd he's ever drawn.

Before he arrived, Trump placed his expected crowd count for his "Namaste Trump" rally in the range of 6 to 10 million, but given the city's population of 8 million and the stadium's capacity of 110,000, those figures seemed high.

Whatever the final number, the crowd was massive, including along Trump's motorcade route, where thousands of hand-selected members of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party welcomed him into Ahmedabad in India's northwest.

Read more about Trump's visit here:

5:16 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Indian opposition party used the Trump rally to criticize Modi

India’s main opposition Congress party has used the occasion of US President Donald Trump's arrival in India to criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"It’s an inhuman tragedy that has taken place in Gujarat where a wall has been built to hide a slum," Congress said in a tweet, referring to efforts to beatify Ahmedabad ahead of Trump's visit. "This wall is symbolic of all the distractions BJP comes up with to hide their failures in the economy and our society."

Congress tied the efforts to Modi's Hindu nationalist policies, and a citizenship bill which sparked outrage last year over perceptions it would further marginalize the country's Muslim minority.

"A wall has been built in Gujarat but a greater one has been built in the hearts & minds of Indians -- it is the wall of hatred. This wall constantly aims to divide our society and it is only us and our unity that can break it," read another tweet on the official account of the Congress party. "No wall can hide the fact that unemployment in India is at a 45-year high due to BJP’s own failed economic policies."

India’s current unemployment rate sits at 7.8%, up from 6.9% in January last year.

4:34 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Great preparations are being made for Trump's visit to the Taj Mahal

Workers plant new flowers in front of the Taj Mahal on February 22.
Workers plant new flowers in front of the Taj Mahal on February 22. Pawan Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

As well as funneling fresh water into the river to make sure it doesn't smell, officials responsible for US President Donald Trump's visit to the Taj Mahal are working overtime to ensure it goes off without a hitch.

Roads between the mausoleum and the nearby airport have been cleared, pavements have been leveled, footpaths "beautified," walls painted a uniform color and the roads sprinkled with water to ensure that dust doesn't fly up when Trump's convoy drives past, said Rajiv Rathi, executive engineer, environment department of Agra Municipal Corporation.

"We have also put in barricades for people to stand behind and flower pots for decoration," he said, adding that authorities are "expecting around 30,000 people on the road to Taj Mahal when Trump arrives."
"This is a long standing tradition, whenever any dignitary comes to the city we give them a key to the city and he is the mayor of the city for the day, we will be giving a key to President Trump as well," Rathi added.
4:22 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

The "Namaste Trump" rally has finished

US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have left the stage at Motera Stadium.

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will now motorcade back to Ahmedabad airport, from where they will fly to Agra. There, they will visit the world famous Taj Mahal, before departing for the Indian capital, New Delhi.

4:06 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Modi is still speaking, but much of the crowd has started leaving

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still addressing the crowd, but with both his and US President Donald Trump's main speeches finished, many people are getting an early start on the traffic leaving the 110,000-seater Motera Stadium.

Modi gave a stirring address at the beginning of the rally, and was followed by Trump, who sang both his praises and of the India-US relationship. Since coming back on stage, Modi has been listing various legislative and other achievements under his leadership.

"The initiatives we have taken to strengthen India-US relations will now, with this visit, enter their next stage," Modi said.

Sugam Pokharel/CNN
Sugam Pokharel/CNN