NEW DELHI: It was vintage Modi. There is no doubt about it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi completely bowled over the Non Resident Indians who had come together under a joint banner to create a mega-event at New York’s Madison Square Gardens. The blitz was so high that the hundreds lining the roads around the venue, carrying placards, and seeking to focus attention on the Gujarat violence were completely ignored by the Indian media although noticed by the international press and clearly several US Congressmen as well.

The rich, influential and powerful Indian American community in the US finally met with their leader, whom they had supported before and through the elections. Efforts to get him to the US had failed in the past because of the same persons who were lining the approach roads carrying placards against the Indian leader, as their campaign had successfully persuaded the US government to deny the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi a visa for nearly a decade.

The Madison Square Garden event thus assumed far greater importance for the Indian Americans who pulled all the plugs for the success of the event that launched the Indian Prime Minister virtually as a leader of those present, and many others watching him speak on giant television screens in New York.

However, the not so influential and rich came one by one to line the streets and raise the banner for justice. And although in doing so they were blacked out by the Indian media present to cover the Prime Minister’s visit, they got considerable space in the international media across the globe. They were quiet, standing for hours as they have done for years for justice. A very visible contrast to the crowds at the Madison Square Garden, a group of whom demonstrated a certain intolerance for divergent views when they manhandled and abused a television journalist Rajdeep Sardesai for a mildly critical tweet at the venue.

The silent protests did have an impact on the worldwide coverage of the PM’s grand event, where his speech received a standing ovation, and where he floored the audience with his oratory and promises. Professional journalists from across the world who thronged the venue wrote about both the stories of the day, the big event and PM Modi’s oomph factor; and the demonstrators, silent but persistent.

Excerpts from a few reports by leading newspapers:

The Guardian, UK: India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, has walked into storms of praise and protest on his first official visit to the US, attracting both a sold-out crowd for a speech at Madison Square Garden and a lawsuit from a human rights group which is attempting to hold him ultimately responsible for a massacre of Muslims in 2002.

USA Today: India's new prime minister took on rock star status Sunday at a reception in Madison Square Garden, as thousands of Indian-Americans cheered the leader during his first U.S. visit.

Speaking from a rotating stage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the crowd of about 20,000 people, "In India democracy is not just a system, it's a faith. It's a belief!"

…...Outside Madison Square Garden, however, hundreds of people protested Modi's appearance, accusing him of violating human rights.

….In 2002, when Modi was governor of India's Gujarat province, Hindu rioters killed more than 1,000 Muslims. Modi, a Hindu nationalist, is accused of helping incite the crowds, and police under his charge were accused of joining the rioters and shooting Muslim civilians.

The State Department barred Modi from traveling to the United States until he became India's prime minister.

Several major newspapers like The Telegraph,UK carried a lengthy report by the Associated Press: A dazzling, Bollywood-style show with dancers warmed up the crowd before Modi appeared. About 30 U.S. lawmakers attended — ringing the stage as the Indian leader came into the auditorium under a spotlight like a boxing champion. The event had the feel of a political rally, and the audience periodically broke out into chants of "Modi! Modi!"

Several hundred anti-Modi protesters, mostly Americans of Indian descent, both Hindu and Muslim, gathered across the street from Madison Square Garden, chanting behind police barricades, "Modi, Modi, you can't hide, you committed genocide!"

…..Mr Modi is no stranger to a big stage. Backed by huge corporate wealth, he was the center of the slickest election campaign India has seen. Madison Square Garden, however, takes it up a notch. It is home to the New York Knicks basketball team, and was where John Lennon played his last concert. Muhammad Ali fought his first bout against Joe Frazier there.

….At both venues, Indian-Americans likened the enthusiasm over Mr Modi's meteoric rise to that surrounding Mr Obama, who captured America's imagination when he won the 2008 presidential election vowing to bring "change."

….But the Indian leader, a Hindu nationalist, hasn't entirely shed questions about his past.

….A federal court in New York on Friday issued a summons for Mr Modi for a lawsuit brought by a US human rights group. It was filed on behalf of victims of the Gujarat violence that claimed more than 1,000 lives, mostly Muslims.

….The group offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who is able to serve the summons on Mr Modi, even though as a head of state he enjoys immunity from lawsuits in American courts while in the US.

...The protesters outside the venue said the Indian leader failed to stop the anti-Muslim rioting as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002. Signs read "Modi, the fascist" and "Stop spreading hate in the name of Hinduism."

...Although Mr Modi remains a divisive figure, the event at Madison Square Garden, is a sign of his appeal not just at home but also the growing clout of the 2.8 million Indian-Americans. It's one of the wealthiest diaspora communities in the US, and can help Mr Modi spur trade and foreign investment. More than 30,000 people across the US sought the free tickets for the New York event, according to the organizer, the Indian-American Community Foundation.

….The foundation says more than 400 partner organizations helped spread the word and distribute tickets for the event, with financial support by Indian American people and businesses. They billed it as one of the largest receptions ever held for a foreign leader in the US.”

Al Jazeera sought to focus on the protests carrying extensive interviews with demonstrators.

But perhaps The Economist kept the final word: “You have given me a lot of love,” Mr Modi cries. “This kind of love has never been given to an Indian leader before! And I will repay you by forming an India of your dreams!” Huge swarms of balloons tumble from the rafters. Mr Modi walks off the stage. “Man, that was something,” says a spectator in a suit as the crowd exits. Outside, in a strange salute to the mother country, there is a mini-riot over free handouts of Bhelpuri, a rice snack. And then the bearers of Mr Modi’s T-shirts spill out into Manhattan’s streets, suddenly swallowed by groups of orthodox Jews, Chinese tourists and billboards advertising Irish beer and Swedish bikini waxes. America’s Indian diaspora, entertained and enchanted, is heading back to the suburbs. And Mr Modi? His next stop will be the White House.