When he met Trump in June, Modi showed his penchant for hugging, resting his head on Trump’s chest as the two were locked in tight embrace. The photo-op made front page back in New Delhi, further cementing Modi’s political hold at home.
And when Trump announced last week India’s enhanced role in Afghanistan, while scolding the arch enemy Pakistan for harbouring terrorists, Modi’s head must be up in Cloud Nine. It’s almost like a wet dream come true for the Hindutva chief!
I say, almost, because Trump had a caveat for Modi : India should contribute more economic assistance to Afghanistan. That’s the spoiler for Modi’s otherwise perfect delusion of grandeur and greatness. As in the case of EU, Trump wanted them to pay more for NATO.
Since Modi came to power, he has gone all out to embrace America. That seems to have produced dividends. First, the US designated India as a major defence partner. It sounds good on paper, though what that exactly means in reality no one knows. But India has paid a hefty price for that hollow label. Modi has dumped the country’s “non-alignedness” since independence, much to the chagrin of Russia, the principal supplier of weapons to India. In response, Russia has reached out to Pakistan, having their first ever joint military drill.
India’s incursion into Chinese-controlled Donglang, when Modi was in Washington meeting and embracing Trump, could be a test of how much or how far Washington would go to bat for New Delhi in its territorial dispute with China. It must have come as a sore disappointment to Modi that Trump is non-committal, urging both sides to solve the border standoff by diplomatic means.
Now, this, Trump wanting India to play and pay more in Afghanistan. Trump sees Modi as ATM, helping to defray part of the cost of occupying Kabul. And perhaps sending Indian troops into Afghanistan.
Is Modi’s wet dream turning into a nightmare?