WASHINGTON, D.C. – A lottery system would decide the participants who would get to attend the public reception of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sept. 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, organizers of the event have said.

The Indian-American Community Foundation, set up recently for the purpose, said that until midnight on Sept. 1 it had received some 20,000 applications from people across the country — from as far as Alaska and Hawaii.

Sept. 1 was the deadline for on-line applications for members of the 407 Indian American community organizations and religious institutions who have joined hands to host Modi's public reception.

On Sept. 2, the foundation opened the process for inviting on-line applications from the general public for the event.

MadisonSquareGarden has a seating capacity of not more than 20,000.

Sept. 7 was the last day for online applications for general admission, during which organizers expected several thousands to register for the event.

As a result, several individuals associated with planning and organization of the public reception said it has been decided that a lottery system would decide on who would be able to attend the high-profile event.

"A random number lottery will be conducted to assign tickets to everyone registered," the dedicated Web site said Sept. 2 as it opened up the general registration process.

Tickets for the program are free.

Organizers said the overwhelming response had not come as a surprise to them.

"We were expecting this. Given Modi's popularity, even a stadium of the size of 60,000 to 70,000 would have been small.

"We tried our best to get the two stadiums in New York, New Jersey area, but they were booked because of games. The Madison Square Garden is the largest venue one that we can get for this day," one of the organizers told PTI.

More than 700 Indian American organizations had shown interest in being a partner to the reception.

Following strict scrutiny — who met the basic criteria like the number of years, not-for-profit, religious institutions, or filing annual income tax returns — so far 407 Indian American organizations have been registered as "Welcome Partners for the Community Reception" for Modi.

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