HOUSTON (Reuters) – Some 50,000 Indian-Individuals are because of pack right into a Houston stadium Sunday for a rally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, joined by U.S. President Donald Trump, in a uncommon mass present of help for a international chief on U.S. soil.
FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bilateral talks through the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 26, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
The occasion provides Modi, a nationalist going through worldwide criticism over a current crackdown in disputed Kashmir, an opportunity to energise his relationship with Indian-Individuals who’re lively political supporters. Trump, in the meantime, will face a largely foreign-born viewers that will not show receptive to his typical strident anti-immigrant messages.
Houston is a uncommon Democratic stronghold in Republican-dominated Texas and serves because the financial anchor of a state that can be important to Trump’s 2020 reelection bid. Polls present tepid help by Indian-American voters, some 75% of whom voted for his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in 2016.
However organizers of the “Howdy, Modi!” occasion, because of kick off within the morning with a 90-minute cultural program that includes 400 costumed dancers, say Trump can count on a receptive viewers.
“Trump is totally welcomed by the neighborhood,” mentioned Preeti Dawra, a spokeswoman for the Texas India Discussion board that organized the occasion. “His presence is a sign of his help and endorsement of the strengthening of India’s relations with America. This occasion is about strengthening these ties.”
It won’t be the primary time Modi, who heads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Occasion, has addressed a big crowd in america, which is house to about four million Indian-Individuals together with about 300,000 in Houston and close by Dallas, in accordance with a Pew Analysis Middle evaluation of U.S. Census information.
Some 19,000 individuals turned out for the same occasion in New York in 2014, and Indian-American volunteers residing in U.S. suburbs helped run a phone blitz of voters in India within the runup to his Could reelection marketing campaign.
“Modi’s coming right here exhibits the significance of the Indian-American diaspora for him,” Dawra mentioned. “We are going to present him on Sunday the passion the diaspora has for his management.”
Modi’s go to to Houston comes forward of this week’s U.N. Normal Meeting in New York and amid a very tense time on the subcontinent.
The Indian chief additional strained long-simmering relations with Pakistan final month by revoking the partial autonomy loved by Muslim-majority Kashmir, which each nuclear-armed nations declare. Modi’s transfer has been met by worldwide criticism.
Pakistan has condemned the crackdown and its Prime Minister Imran Khan warned it will drive extra of the world’s Muslims into extremism.
Members of India’s spiritual minority Sikh and Muslim teams are planning noisy gatherings close to the stadium to protest Modi’s Kashmir coverage.
The U.S.-India relationship on commerce and tariffs is rocky proper now, although Trump and Modi seem to have robust private ties.
However Devesh Kapur, director of Asia Applications at Johns Hopkins College, who has written a guide on Indian-Individuals, mentioned that whereas the rally will surely have symbolic worth for each leaders, “it’s unlikely by itself to impression thorny commerce points … however it might’t harm.”
Kapur additionally forecast little enchancment relating to Trump’s standing with Indian-Individuals.
“The Trump administration’s onerous line insurance policies on immigration … have hardly endeared (him) to the neighborhood,” Kapur mentioned. “Showing with PM Modi may mildly assist however actually not reverse the neighborhood’s general pro-Democrat leanings.”
Reporting by Brad Brooks in Houston; Further reporting by Alexandra Ulmer in Mumbai; Modifying by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell