"Abki baar Trump Sarkaar". Prime Minister Narendra Modi tacitly backed US President Donald Trump to get re-elected for a second term with a slight alteration of his own election slogan of 2014 – ‘Abki baar Modi sarkar’ - while sharing the stage with him at the 'Howdy, Modi' event in Houston.
Although Modi from a purely technical standpoint did not explicitly endorse Trump's candidature, the stage, the event and the speeches have largely been seen as Modi offering his backing to the US President.
Effusive in his praise of Trump, Modi said Indians have connected to him very well and under his leadership, Indo-US relations have reached new heights. “Friends, we in India have connected well with President Trump, the words of candidate Trump, ‘Ab ki baar, Trump sarkar (This time, Trump government) rang loud and clear’,” he said in his address.
While it could be argued that Modi was simply referring to Trump’s candidacy back in 2016, when he had used the same words in an ad aimed at the Indian-American population, most have read it as an endorsement considering that seeking the support of the affluent Indian diaspora was stated to be the primary reason why Trump accepted the invite to the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event in Houston.
The US Presidential elections will take place next year, but chances of him winning again appear bleak right now with his approval rating down at 44 per cent, and most early polls showing trailing to potential Democrat candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Trump would be hopeful that Prime Minister Modi’s backing would go a long way in winning him the support of the Indian-American community, who largely support the Democrats and had voted for Hillary Clinton in large numbers in the 2016 election.
The PM praised his leadership and said he has “passion for America and concern for every American and strong resolve to make America great again”.
"His name is familiar to every person on the planet. His name comes up almost every conversation in the world on global politics," he said. "From CEO to Commander in Chief, from boardrooms to the oval office, from studios to the global stage, from politics to the economy and to security, he has left a deep and lasting impact everywhere," Modi said.
“When I met him for the first time, he said to me, ‘India is a true friend of the White House’,” Modi said to loud cheers from the 50,000-strong crowd at the NRG stadium. “This morning you can hear the heartbeat of the two largest democracies...you can feel the strength and human bonds of two great nations,” he added.
“Mllions are glued to their TV though it is rather late on Sunday night in India,” Modi said as he introduced Trump to the crowd before his address.
“They are witnessing history in making…Mr President you have introduced me to your family in 2017 and today I have the honour to introduce you to my family .....Over a billion Indian and people of Indian heritage around the globe,” he said.
Modi said the gathering and Trump’s presence at the event was unprecedented. “I get chance to meet him often and every time he was warm and friendly. The President of US, Mr Donald Trump...this is extraordinary...this is unprecedented,” he said.