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Kumar Singh Jadeja | HENB | Edison (New Jersey) | Oct 16, 2016:: Frontrunner US Presidential candidate Donald Trump says that, if he’s elected to the White House, there won’t be any relationship more important to the US than its relationship with India.
Trump says at a Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) fundraiser Saturday night that “under a Trump admiration we are going to become even better friends.”
Creating a huge sensation among the audience Trump says, “We love the Hindus. We Love India”
He adds: “In fact, I’ll take the word ‘even’ out because we are going to be best friends. There won’t be any relationship more important to us.”
He came, he saw, he conflated and won the heart of the audience. Using the terms Indians and Hindus interchangeably, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump told a rally of Hindu-Americans on Saturday that there would be a “phenomenal future” for India and the United States under his administration, while raging against the dangers from “radical Islamic terrorism” facing them.
In what was arguably the first country- and ethno-religion specific rally ever addressed by a US Presidential candidate, Trump kept his word while turning up at an anti-terrorism charity event organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition in this New Jersey suburb with a large ethnic Indian population, telling a crowd of about 5000 desis that he is a “big fan of India and big fan of Hindus.”
“If I am elected President, the Indian and Hindu community will have a true friend in White House,” Trump told the gathering, many of whom had soaked up two hours of kitschy Bollywood entertainment before his arrival. After lighting a lamp on the stage at the cavernous Raritan Center, Trump said he became familiar with India and Indians because he had two “massive” projects in India, both “very successful with very wonderful partners,” and in which he became involved because he had “great confidence in India.”
“I am a big fan of Hindu and I am a big fan of India. Big, big fan,” Trump declared to the cheering crowd after participating in a traditional Diya oil lamp lighting for good luck.
“Incredible people and incredible country,” Trump gushed, raining down superlatives as he praised the Indian and Hindu ethos of hard work, education and enterprise, while relating how he went to India 19 months ago and looked forward to going back “many, many times.”
“Generations of Indians and Hindu-Americans have strengthened our country…their values of hard work, education and enterprise have truly enriched our nation and we will be celebrating a Trump administration together,” the maverick candidate raved, showing no sign of his signature rants against open borders and illegal immigrants that characterize many of his campaign appearances.
The reason was not hard to fathom. In his eyes, Indian-Americans mostly come through the legal route and add to the US economy even though America has bled jobs to India, mainly on account of Washington’s policies. Indian-Americans, Trump said, have the highest level of college education and entrepreneurship and he was going to make it even better for them by lowering taxes, eliminating regulations and bureaucracy.
At a broader, geo-political level, Trump pledged a deeper diplomatic and military relationship with India surpassing that brought about by previous administrations.
“Under a Trump administration, we are going to become even better friends. In fact, I will take the word even out because we are going to best friends,” the Republican nominee said, pledging a shoulder-to-shoulder cooperation with India in sharing intelligence and ‘keeping our people safe.”
Trump had warm words for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose likeness some western commentators see in Trump, calling him a very “energetic” man and a “great” leader.
“We’ll have a phenomenal future together … with tremendous trade deals,” he pledged while outlining plans for ties with India in a slightly rambling ten-minute address that was high on hyperbole but lacking in depth and details.
Outside the venue, small groups of leftist protests holding placards condemning both Trump and Modi were hectored by their supporters who saw them as being unsympathetic to their concerns about terrorism.
“They are pro-Pakistan…they don’t mind that so much funding in a Democratic administration goes to Pakistan which is a terrorist state. Donald Trump will stop that,” raged Aruna Pal, a New Jersey physician who said she had been a Democrat till the recent spate of terrorist attacks in India.
It was box that Trump himself ticked off when he said India has seen first hand the brutality of terrorism and cross-border violence. Although he did not specifically mention Pakistan, he cited the attacks on Mumbai (“a place that I love and understand”) and on the Indian parliament, in pledging closer cooperation between the two countries.
It was hard to discern how many people were politically motivated by the Trump event and how many came for the entertainment spectacle (the dancer Prabhudeva was the main draw), but the atmosphere was surcharged outside, with frequent exchanges between two small groups of protestors and Trump and Modi loyalists.
But if one took away the political affiliations and partisanship for a moment, the significance of the rally was as striking as the milestone established by Modi’s Madison Square Garden event. There is no other ethnic group outside native-born Americans capable of mounting a political-entertainment spectacle on this scale, both in terms of resources and people.
The event was the brainchild of Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, a Chicago entrepreneur who is unabashedly Hindu and has taken it on himself to raise the profile of the community without being apologetic about wearing the religious badge.
“American conservative values are Hindu values. Hindus should have a powerful voice in the US,” he said while introducing Trump, whose remarks suggested he concurred.
The RHC event also featured long and colourful performances by popular Bollywood singers and dancers.
Though Hindus are not effectively treated as ‘vote bank’ by any political party in India, the Hindu Americans are certainly treated in US as a powerful and decisive force for Presidential Election in the sense of a ‘virtual vote bank’.