India's PM Modi to address huge rally in London, have lunch with the Queen

LONDON (AFP) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to address a huge rally at London's Wembley Stadium and had lunch with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday (Nov 13), the second day of his visit to Britain.

Up to 60,000 people are expected to attend the rally at one of Britain's most famous sporting venues, where Mr Modi will be introduced by British Prime Minister David Cameron and give a speech at around 5pm local time.

Britain, the former colonial power in India, has a 1.5 million-strong Indian diaspora population and the event, which will include a huge firework display, is to be held in a carnival atmosphere following celebrations for the Hindu festival of Diwali.

Performers will include singer Kanika Kapoor and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The event is reportedly being funded by the Europe India Forum, a non-profit company formed by British-Indian businessman Nathu Puri.

Attendees are being bussed in from around the country with a system of shuttle buses dubbed the "Modi Express".

On day one of Modi's three-day visit, the first by an Indian leader for a decade, he met with Mr Cameron to discuss investments by British and Indian companies.

Mr Cameron has said trade deals worth £9 billion (S$19 billion) would be sealed during the visit.

Ahead of the Wembly event, Mr Modi and Mr Cameron met business leaders in Downing Street.

"British businesses already support nearly 700,000 jobs in India, and India invests more in the UK than in the rest of the EU combined, creating almost 8,000 new jobs here last year," Mr Cameron said in a statement.

Britain has rolled out the red carpet for Mr Modi, but the Indian premier's arrival has also drawn protests.

Up to 500 people demonstrated against the visit outside Downing Street on Thursday before he met with Mr Cameron, many of them Sikhs.

Some 200 literary figures, including Mumbai-born British author Salman Rushdie, have also signed an open letter warning of a "rising climate of fear" in India.

Indian-born artist Anish Kapoor wrote in an editorial in the Guardian on Friday that "free speech and tolerance are under threat from Narendra Modi".

He claimed that "a Hindu version of the Taliban" is taking hold in India.

"The country's openness to social and religious minorities (more than 500 million people) and regional differences is at serious risk," he wrote.

"We in Britain cannot bite our tongues any more; we have a responsibility to speak out."

Mr Modi was elected by a landslide in 2014 but he and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have faced accusations from opponents that they are failing to protect minorities.