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How Trudeau’s Overly Indian Avatar May Help Him Cross His Own 2019 Hurdle

While there were many who spoke about how Canadian PM Justin Trudeau was "snubbed" by PM Narendra Modi, there was not one person who was not smitten with Trudeau’s children in Indian wear or the PM's 'bhangra' moves. His 'desi' avatar, perhaps, also made Canadians of Indian origin extremely happy.

Aishwarya Kumar |

Updated:February 24, 2018, 8:02 AM IST
How Trudeau’s Overly Indian Avatar May Help Him Cross His Own 2019 Hurdle
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his family at Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati. (File Photo)
New Delhi: Travelling across the country in Indian attire and hands folded in a ‘namaste’, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not miss an opportunity to display his connect with the locals and their culture.

While there were many who spoke about how he was "snubbed" by PM Narendra Modi and how his visit was not given due importance, there was not one person who was not smitten with Trudeau’s kids in Indian wear or the PM's 'bhangra' moves. That probably also made the Canadians back home very happy, especially Indian natives.

The visit, as much as it ended on both countries strengthening their bilateral relationship, was also about Trudeau stamping his cooperation and inclination towards the Indians in Canada as 2019 draws near.

The Indo-Canadian constituency in Canada is widely recognized as the one that helped the Liberals come to power in 2015. There is very little doubt that the community will not play a significant role in next year’s elections.

Trudeau has made sure that this visit to India is seen as a personal one too. With dressing his kids in Indian attire and dancing his way into the Canadian High Commission to the sound of dhols were just the tip of the matter. He took it one step ahead when he visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar. In fact, as the PM landed in Chandigarh, he had already donned a scarf, considered holy among Sikhs, who make for a very powerful voter constituency in Canada.

“The vote bank directly impacts around 4-6 ridings. Sikh votes are crucial for 2019; we’ve seen their strength in 2015. And Trudeau definitely needs to walk the talk with regards to Khalistan issue and distance himself,” former Indian High Commissioner to Canada Vishnu Prakash told News18. And indeed, Trudeau has done everything and more to ensure he has a smooth sailing back home.
Other than his Indian dance moves and attire, he has assured the Indian government, time and again, about his commitment against extremism and his non-inclination towards those backing Khalistan.

In 2015, the Liberals won 24 ridings where the population was primarily South Asian, which included Indians and Pakistanis among others. The total number of such ridings comes to around 25, which means the Liberals made maximum gains in areas that had Indians in them. Most of these ridings were in areas like Greater Toronto and Vancouver.

Despite historical advantages with the Indo-Canadian community, the simmering issue of Khalistan and the unprecedented invite given out by the Canadian High Commission to a former extremist accused of murder may still spoilsport for Trudeau in the coming elections.

“I’m sure that 99% diaspora are proud Canadian citizens who know their cultural roots in India. The diaspora must be very happy that Trudeau got to experience the diversity first hand. And Sikhs love Trudeau, so quoting radicals is negative for him,” said Prakash.

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