From Howdy Modi to Namaste Trump, the times have changed and so will the impact the two right-leaning world leaders will look for from the publicity stunt.
In September last year, gloating in his unprecedented mandate, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did a victory lap in front of 50,000 holding hands with US President Donald Trump. Both pledged to keep innocent civilians in their respective countries safe. The highlight issues were terrorism, border security and immigration. But from Howdy Modi publicity stunt to Namaste Trump, the times have changed now and so will the appeal the two right-leaning world leaders will be looking for.
Trump will be hosted in Modi and his party the BJP’s bastion city Ahmedabad. The crowds in attendance will be much bigger, with Trump having been promised by Modi an audience of 6 million or 60 lacs. The city witnessed a hurried renovation – a wall that hid a city slum that bares naked India’s poverty and hasty completion of the world’s biggest stadium. That event is bigger not just in appearance but also the impact both leaders expect it to have on their respective images and approval ratings.
Heads Up! Namaste Trump is a bigger publicity stunt than Howdy Modi for both the leaders
- Modi’s publicity ambitions – then and now
- Trump’s approval ratings – then and now
- PM Modi’s problems currently – Protests, Kashmir, International Image and stagnant economy
- How Trump expects his India visit to benefit his re-election campaign
- Endorsement of each other’s Nation-first approach and recent controversial actions
Modi Has 99 Problems In Ahmedabad, In Houston He Had None
In Houston, Modi emphatically assured NRIs that back in India, “All is Well”. Back then, Kashmir was still a state and the Article 370 hadn’t been revoked. India had not been divided by the Citizenship Amendment Act. The economic worries were visible but not glaring enough. Kashmir is still under a harsh lockdown for more than 150 days. India is witnessing continuous dissent across a number of states. Modi’s party the BJP has lost two crucial state elections where the dynamic leader failed to polarize voters. The problems are piling on the Indian head of state even if he keeps a smiling face.
Namaste Trump offers a much-needed distraction for Modi. The Indian PM has more issues to silence currently than the Howdy Modi publicity stunt in Houston. It helps the PM Modi further fortify his image of a global leader. An Indian leader who is attracting growing warmth from the world’s most powerful country. The visit from President Trump is being touted by the Indian government as a monumental moment in India-US ties. It is expected to give PM Modi much needed literature to push his narrative of “minor hiccups don’t matter when building a strong future” – the message he and his party peers have been pushing among Indian citizens feeling uneasy with the domestic political chaos.
Trump Appealed To NRIs in Howdy Modi, Now He Appeals To Everyone
In 2019, the race to the White House was just hotting up. Trump was basking in his sanctions which had ensured momentum for the American economy. The event gave him an opportunity to woo the Indian diaspora of America. Moreover, the two leaders even pushed across the event as a turning point in the ties between the world’s two largest democracies and the beginning of new chemistry. However, six months forward, not much of the touted special relationship has become a reality.
But President Trump is in the middle of his re-election campaign. His India visit will also be a distraction which aims to improve the image he has seen hampered by the Biden-Ukraine controversy that led him to the verge of impeachment, the Jeff Epstein case and the Stormy Daniels scandal. Trump will aim to push the visit as a successful endeavour that brings the world’s biggest open market closer to the United States. India and the US have also seen advancement in strategic ties and business relations. So, while Trump has decried the “treatment” US gets from India, expect some sort of trade deal to come forth with the intention to appease the middle-class citizens of both the countries, exhausted by the strain of the ongoing slowdown.
Endorsing Each Other’s Contributions to Fighting Against ‘Islamic Terrorism’
During Howdy Modi, the two leaders successfully connected America’s 11 September 2001 terrorist attack with India’s 26 November 2008 terrorist attack. Since then, Indian leadership has repeatedly dragged the strained relationship with Pakistan to the forefront of every other issue. President Trump has also taken on Iran and thrust the narrative that Iran’s plans are bad for American health into mainstream. Both leaders tout themselves as decisive roadblocks in the face of a projected plan of the Islamic world to conquer the planet.
Furthermore, the US sees India as the most vital nation in its efforts to derail China’s global economic domination effort. It sees India as a geopolitical buffer. From the Indian standpoint, the US is its answer to growing feud with the European Union on the Kashmir front. Namaste Trump, just like Howdy Modi, will be another publicity stunt that comes across as an endorsement of each other’s ways by two leaders relying on Nation First narrative to resonate across classes of voters. For both Modi and Trump, two leaders who rely on divisive politics and polarization of voters, such events distract and disillusion masses which lofty promises that seldom materialize in actuality.