‘Howdy, Modi!’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 23, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:45 AM, September 23, 2019

‘Howdy, Modi!’

Trump set to join Modi at Texas rally

Donald Trump yesterday headed to Houston, Texas, to join a major rally of tens of thousands of Indian-Americans, but the US President won’t be headlining.

Instead, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the star. “Howdy, Modi!” is billed to be the largest gathering for any foreign leader visiting the US, “other than the Pope,” according to the event’s website.

The event gives Modi, a nationalist facing international criticism over a recent crackdown in disputed Kashmir, a chance to energize his relationship with Indian-Americans who are active political supporters. Trump, meanwhile, will face a largely foreign-born audience that may not prove receptive to his typical strident anti-immigrant messages, reported Reuters.

Both populist leaders energize their respective bases with big rallies and even bigger personalities. Their similar strongman tactics have also landed them at loggerheads. After failing to secure a trade deal earlier this year, the leaders have exchanged tariffs. But the joint appearance seems to indicate there’s no love lost.

Over the last five years, Modi has consistently trumpeted the slogan that would become Trump’s signature campaign promise: India (or America, in Trump’s case) comes first.

Within months of taking office in 2014, Modi launched “Make in India” -- a campaign promoting local manufacturing, reported CNN.

It will not be the first time Modi, who heads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has addressed a large crowd in the US, which is home to about 4 million Indian-Americans including about 300,000 in Houston and nearby Dallas, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of US Census data.

 

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