The ‘sickular’ brigade among Indian politicians and the ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude of the western media vis-a-vis India’s internal matters are decided by a few yardsticks. Some of them are well-established. The claims from these intellectuals and fake liberals are demonstrably false. This became amply clear on February 25, when Donald Trump exposed a ‘conspiracy’ to defame India, and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show the country in poor light.
Much to the chagrin of these cabals, Trump said: “I will say the Prime Minister was incredible on what he said (about religious freedom)... He wants people to have religious freedom very strongly.” The intent of a select media including the western press was to put ‘words’ into Trump’s mouth. They had assumed in view of ongoing violence in Delhi and that too coinciding with his visit, they could drag the President of the US to make remarks that would please them, while clearly embarrassing Narendra Modi.
In other words, it was a declaration from the President of the United States that India has liberty and absolute religious freedom; and he went on to say that the much-maligned Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is India’s internal matter. It does not concern the world. When was the last time any American president said something so considerate about Indian Prime Minister?
The comments came on a day when there was a planned violence and arson in Delhi. By the time Trump made his comments, half-a-dozen people including a brave cop had already lost their lives and scores were injured.
Trouble makers pelted stones, set fire to shops and buildings and attacked cops and TV journalists. The violence was triggered by a confrontation between opponents of the CAA, believed to be Muslims, and people who were supporting the new law.
The CAA provides for fast-tracking of citizenship rights to oppressed religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but not Muslims.
Opposition parties including socialists, communists and the Congress party have described the law as "unconstitutional" and accused the government of using its brute majority in parliament to ensure its passage in December.
"If you look back and compare with other places, India has always worked hard for religious freedom," Trump said. "We talked about it (religious freedom) for a long time. As far as individual attacks are concerned, I have heard about it but I did not discuss it. That's up to India."
Questioned further about the violence in Delhi over the CAA, the President gave a pat on the back and clean chit to the Modi Government. He said it was India's internal matter. "It is really up to India”. Thus, we find merits in the wordings of G Kishan Reddy, the junior minister in the Home Ministry who said that there was a “conspiracy” behind fuelling of the protest as all of it were intended to show India in a poor light.
In democracy, the elections are the only acceptable and proper means of holding a public leader to account. While Narendra Modi has triumphed on this after his landslide mandate in 2019 general elections, all his detractors – the discredited communists, socialists and grand old Congress party have miserably failed. The failure list also includes a section of the western media and of course a sizeable section of the Indian ‘presstitutes’ who hate everything about Narendra Modi, BJP and the Modi Government. True, they have reasons to feel miserable. But that does not mean that they will get even Trump on their side.
Thus, despite their efforts came in the royal snub. Trump made it clear that all these are internal matters of India and that barrier should be respected and he also reposed faith in Modi.
The US President was instead a ‘determined’ person unwilling to oblige these anti-Modi sections. At the end of the day, according to a BJP leader from Assam, Trump was a “determined player” who wanted to wrap up his India visit successfully and on happier notes with the dispensation led by Modi and he wanted to go back home with “good memories” from a historic ‘stand alone’ India visit.
Why to ruffle a popular leader as Modi, with whom he will be doing business on multiple fronts in next four years?
In a way, the ‘sincerity’ on the part of President Trump for a long lasting relationship with India was foremost. India-US relations was never better, says President Trump himself. This is unlike Barack Obama, who had chosen to ‘preach’ India in 2015 when his own administration had many fault lines.
The social media and some sections of Indian TV media too did not miss the momentous moment that the western press got a snub it deserved. One Twitter missive was a real knockout punch: “Western media lost steam after Trump snubbed them unequivocally”.
Another missive on the micro blogging site that sought to do justice with the occasion was: “Trump exposed paid Western media with his classical snub”.
The finer points of the entire episode was though Delhi burnt and witnessed the arson and also killing of a policeman, the violence was only in few pockets and the rest of the city and National Capital Region the life was normal and thus Trump and his Lady wife could go ahead with their scheduled engagements.
Thus, during the day, February 25, the First Lady Melania Trump also visited a government-run school and attended a class as part of the “happiness curriculum" introduced lately in the public schools.
After the diplomatic talks, Trump and Modi issued joint press statements applauding the growing defence cooperation between the two countries and highlight their joint role in fighting terrorism fed and supported by radical Islam.
Those who sought to undermine the importance of Modi-Trump talks and tried to dismiss the mega Summit as mere photo opportunity, it is worthwhile to note that the real substance of the parleys was reflected in the Joint Statement.
Here is a sample
“Prime Minister Modi and President Trump denounced any use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms. They called on Pakistan to ensure that no territory under its control is used to launch terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot. They called for concerted action against all terrorist groups including Al-Qa’ida, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, TTP, D-Company, and all their affiliates”.
In another context, the Joint Statement is equally crucial.
“A close partnership between India and the United States is central to a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. .....The United States appreciates India’s role as a net provider of security, as well as developmental and humanitarian assistance in the Indian Ocean Region.”
Coming to the end of this article, one ought to say both sides had something to count. For Trump it was a case of wooing Indian Americans – estimated to be four million – by way of wooing a popular Indian leader. These Indian-Americans could influence Trump’s prospects in the presidential election in November, 2020.
At his media briefing, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla was rightly asked what did India get from Trump’s visit? His response was matured and equally apt - “...You can have a relationship which is based on trade, you can have a relationship that is based on defence, you can have a relationship that has a strong on energy component, but I think relationship that has a people to people connect is something which is something which is unassailable. And this is what this visit reinforces that connect between the people of Indian and people of The United States of America.”
“As far as we are concerned, he represents the people of the United States, he represents the will of the people of the United States and for us the means of improving and enhancing our relationship with the United States”.
(The writer is a freelance journalist)