Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arranged a $150 million US dollar grand reception for the US President and his family in Ahmedabad (Gujarat) where Modi was the State Chief Minister till 2014. India has a 4 million diaspora in the US. A big chunck of this is from Gujarat. In the November 2020 US election Indian voters can play a role. Traditionally Indians in the US have been supporters of Democratic Party.
It was the custom earlier that Indian government would not show its preference to any party or candidate in the US elections. This was changed when Modi was in Houston recently addressing a large Indian crowd where he shouted an election slogan in favour of Trump : “Ab ki baar Trump Sarkar” (This time Trump government). About Trump visit to India, The Indian Express editorially said : “Underlying the bonhomie is, the recognition that they can help each other’s political fortunes. Trump is facing re-election in November and would be happy to see his warmth towards Modi and India translate into valuable support from the Indian American community. Trump, too, is lending some political cover for Modi, who is facing considerable international criticism for his government’s moves on Kashmir and the amendment of citizenship laws.” In 36 hours Modi hugged Trump 9 times and both gave certificates of greatness to each other on several occasions.
Apart from the angle of forthcoming election, Trump visit assured India strategic partnership. A $3 billion deal was reached for India to acquire Apache and MH-60 Romeo military helicopters from the US with an assurance to conclude bilateral free trade agreement after the US election. According to the Economic Times : “The key takeaway from President Trump’s visit is the continued importance the US places on India’s role in the Indo-Pacific as a counterweight to China.”
The joint statement said leaders looked forward to early conclusion of defence cooperation and keeping in China and China’s Belt and Road Initiative in view has emphasised the strategic footprint of ‘Blue Dot Net work’, a multi stake holder initiative that will bring governments, private sector, and civil society together to promote high quality trusted standards for global infrastructure development.
By the time Trump reached India’s capital Delhi from Gujarat (Ahmedabad) armed clashes were taking place in parts of Delhi between protesters and supporters of Modi’s citizenship law. Pro CAA mobs have been moving free in Delhi for the last few days. They demanded stoppage to CAA protests. Threats were held out to protesters. In the street fights which began on 23rd, 22 lives are lost, 150 are injured. Many houses, show rooms and shops were vandalised. Journalists were not spared. Delhi police is directly under the control of Modi government and they were silent spectators while mob frenzy led to violence, carnage of innocent lives. The affected parts are now under curfew, under para military forces since Delhi police failed to bring situation under control. Shoot at sight order is in force. Delhi is tense.
BJP has made citizenship issue into Hindu-Muslim divide. Violence was in the air from the time the law was passed on December 5. From December 15 onwards Delhi has witnessed mayhem. Clashes between students and police took place at the gates of Jamia-Milia Islamiya University. Police entered Jamia university library targeting students sitting and reading in the library. Many were injured. Later, goons entered Jawaharlal Nehru University and assaulted students, seriously injuring many. Strangely, here police refused to intervene when goons were attacking students. Students in both these Delhi universities were protesting against Citizenship Amendment Act. No enquiry has been made and no arrests have been made so far.
In February the BJP faced a crucial test in the Delhi state assembly elections. BJP was out of power in Delhi state for more than 20 years. They wanted to recapture Delhi State. They accused the ruling party, AAP, Am Aadmi Party (Ordinary Peoples Party) supporting Shaheen Baug protesters. Pro-BJP goons wielding guns came in the open threatening Anti CAA protesters. On February 11, BJP suffered a humiliating defeat in Delhi. In the 70 member Delhi state assembly AAP won 62 seats and BJP could bag only 8 seats. This defeat too has annoyed BJP contributing to the ongoing communal violence in Delhi.
Trump visit to India ended with a press meet on 25. In the press meet Trump was asked about the communal clashes in Delhi and the protest against citizenship law across India. He said Prime Minister Modi has told him there is religious freedom in India. President Trump said he would not comment on citizenship law. On Kashmir he reiterated his offer to mediate if both India and Pakistan desired his intervention. Often, he thanked Pakistan for playing a positive role in the recent US-Taliban peace deal. ■