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Manpreet Singh's special gift from Tony Abbott for Prime Minister Narendra Modi: A friendship bat

Author: Ateet Sharma
Publication: Indiatoday.in
Date: July 31, 2017
URL:    http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pm-modi-tony-abbott-manpreet-singh-friendship-bat/1/1015026.html

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Australian PM Tony Abbott continue to remain friends. The latest 'to-Narendra-from-Tony' gift is a special MS Dhoni series bat with a hand-written message through 'messenger' Manpreet.

These days if you just happen to wait outside the Parliament, there is a fair chance of meeting an immaculately dressed young Sikh gentleman walking around with a framed bat. His ultimate mission is to reach the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and give the bat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi "personally." However, stopped by Kalashnikov-toting soldiers in the country's most secured zone, the closest point he has been able to get to in South Block remains Vijay Chowk.  

Indeed, as the security guys too found out, the bat Manpreet Singh "from Sydney" is carrying is rather special. It has been sent by Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister of Australia. Yes, the same man who took Modi on a tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2014. 

Abbott is no longer the Australian Prime Minister but the friendship between the two leaders - they famously addressed each other by their first names in 2014 - remains intact. So, the latest 'to-Narendra-from-Tony' gift is a special MS Dhoni series bat with a hand-written message through 'messenger' Manpreet.

"I was the brand ambassador for 'Festival of India in Australia' event when the Indian PM visited Australia. I have know the Australian PM for long and, because cricket is loved equally in both the countries, he sent this bat as a gift for Mr. Modi through me," Manpreet told India Today.

Abbott writes on the bat: "To Narendra, it was an honour to work closely with you to strengthen the historic ties between our countries. I will always cherish our friendship."

Singh, who works as a mall manager, is actively involved in NRI events down under. These days, he and his cousin travel from Faridabad to Delhi with a hope of finding a way to meet Modi.

"We contacted the PMO but they mailed back saying that the PM has an extremely busy schedule and thus cannot meet. There was an option given - that of handing over the bat to Sports Minister Vijay Goel - but we will only give this to Modiji. That is the reason why I have booked a one-way ticket from Sydney this time. I won't go back without taking his blessings," he says.

Singh is also carrying with him photos of Abbott signing the bat and also a letter from Australian politician Kevin Conolly addressed to PM Modi mentioning that Abbott's choice of a bat as a gift is "an especially appropriate one in the context of our two nations' shared passion for cricket." Conolly also adds in his letter that he "sincerely hopes" that Manpreet has this opportunity to gift this bat to PM Modi "in person." 

Till that actually happens, Manpreet and his cousin plan to carry their vigil at the Vijay Chowk.
 
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