FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

How India’s Modi is Playing on Trump’s Ego to His Advantage

Photograph Source: Executive Office of the President of the United States – Public Domain

One thing about U.S. President Donald Trump is that he can be brutally frank. Trump recently picked up the phone and called British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to convey his displeasure over the latter’s decision to allow Huawei to operate in the United Kingdom despite Washington’s repeated urgings not to do business with the Chinese tech company.

Washington even threatened that London would be expelled from the Five Eyes (intelligence-sharing arrangement between the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand) if it had anything to do with 5G developed by the Chinese company.

But Johnson stuck to his guns—rightly so, since the post-Brexit British economy hopes to get substantial blood transfusion from China to sustain its future growth and prosperity.

After a “furious” call from Trump, which ended abruptly when the U.S. president “slammed down the phone,” Johnson has since postponed his planned visit next month to Washington.

Therefore, Trump’s frank remarks about his forthcoming India visit on February 24-25 to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, should not come as a surprise. In response to a query from the media, he said on February 18:

“Well, we can have a trade deal with India, but I’m really saving the big deal for later on. We’re doing a very big trade deal with India. We’ll have it. I don’t know if it’ll be done before the election, but we’ll have a very big trade deal with India.

“We’re not treated very well by India, but I happen to like Prime Minister Modi a lot. And he told me we’ll have 7 million people between the airport and the event. And the stadium, I understand, is sort of semi under construction, but it’s going to be the largest stadium in the world. So it’s going to be very exciting. But he says between the stadium and the airport, we’ll have about 7 million people. So it’s going to be very exciting. I hope you all enjoy it.”

There is virtual certainty now that Trump won’t cancel the visit, as he’s wont to doing at the last minute if his attention wanders away to something more exciting.

Prime Minister Modi did a smart thing indeed by enticing Trump with the alluring prospect of 7 million people lining up the streets from the Ahmedabad airport to the newly built Motera Stadium in the city.

What can be more seductive to lure a populist politician than a mass rally? Modi understands Trump well like few people can.

Trump treats politics like a reality show. He is the very antithesis of a cerebral, erudite politician. Ideas don’t matter; words and showmanship are all that matter to him.

Trump derides intellectuality, has a flair for fake news, speaks untruths freely (even in his State of the Union speech), and is a living example of what Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

But how come such a hugely successful businessman like Trump can be so naive as to believe that Modi will produce a human chain of 7 million Gujaratis?

Some Indian analysts estimate that something like 300,000 Gujaratis might actually line up to witness the nearly 14-mile-long Trump-Modi roadshow on February 24 from the airport to Motera Stadium.

Trump would have calculated that even if just about 10 percent of the people Modi promised actually show up for the roadshow, that would present a breathtaking image to be broadcast back to American TVs.

The overpowering impression that the spectacle would create in the American public will be that Trump is an immensely popular leader among mankind, contrary to how half of Americans speak of him.

To be sure, the Modi government is leaving no stone unturned. The government hopes to arrange 120,000 people to attend the rally at Motera Stadium. Three thousand buses will be deployed to ferry people from the districts to the stadium.

The state government is expected to spend nearly US$15 million on road renovation, security cover, cultural shows, decorations, etc., alone to give a fresh look to the Gujarat model of development.

Trump didn’t waffle on the reason why he is coming. He hinted that a trade deal remains elusive. His remarks also belied some annoyance with Delhi—presumably, for not being more helpful for his America First project or his family’s business interests in India.

But then, he happens to like Modi himself “a lot.” Suffice it to say, this visit needs to be seen as a favor he’s doing for Modi, whose invitation once as chief guest on Republic Day he’d turned down.

Trump sounded like the badshah (king) out to enjoy himself on an exciting hunting trip and is looking forward to much self-gratification, all arranged at no personal cost to himself.

What can the lowly subjects expect in return? In ancient times, the badshah would have thrown gold coins at the poor people lining the streets.

This article was produced in partnership by Indian Punchline and Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
March 27, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us
Louis Proyect
Life and Death in the Epicenter
Paul Street
“I Will Not Kill My Mother for Your Stock Portfolio”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts
Jefferson Morley
Could the Death of the National Security State be a Silver Lining of COVID-19?
Ruth Hopkins
A Message For America from Brazil’s First Indigenous Congresswoman
Kathleen Wallace
The End of the Parasite Paradigm
Anthony DiMaggio
Misinformation and the Coronavirus: On the Dangers of Depoliticization and Social Media
Andrew Levine
Neither Biden Nor Trump: Imagine Cuomo
David Rosen
God’s Vengeance: the Christian Right and the Coronavirus
David Schultz
The Covid-19 Bailout: Another Failed Opportunity at Structural Change
Evaggelos Vallianatos
In the Grip of Disease
Edward Leer
Somebody Else’s World: An Interview with Kelly Reichardt
Robert Fisk
What Trump is Doing in the Middle East While You are Distracted by COVID-19
Daniel Warner
COVID-19: Health or Wealth?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
Corona in Germany: Hording and Authoritarianism
Ramzy Baroud
BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy
Richard Moser
Russia-gate: the Dead But Undead
Ron Jacobs
Politics, Pandemics and Trumpism
Chris Gilbert
Letter From Catalonia: Alarming Measures
Richard Eskow
Seven Rules for the Boeing Bailout
Jonathan Carp
Coronavirus and the Collapse of Our Imaginations
Andrew Bacevich
The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom
Peter Cohen
COVID-19, the Exponential Function and Human the Survival
César Chelala - Alberto Luis Zuppi
The Pope is Wrong on Argentina
James Preston Allen
Alexander Cockburn Meets Charles Bukowski at a Sushi Bar in San Pedro
Jérôme Duval
The Only Oxygen Cylinder Factory in Europe is Shut down and Macron Refuses to Nationalize It
Neve Gordon
Gaza Has Been Under Siege for Years. Covid-19 Could Be Catastrophic
Alvaro Huerta
To Survive the Coronavirus, Americans Should Learn From Mexicans
Prabir Purkayastha
Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Poses Fundamental Challenges to All Societies
Raouf Halaby
Fireside Chatterer Andrew Cuomo for President
Thomas Drake
The Sobering Realities of the American Dystopia
Negin Owliaei
Wash Your Hands…If You Have Water
Felice Pace
A New Threat to California’s Rivers:  Will the Rush to Develop Our Newest Water Source Destroy More Streams?
Ray Brescia
What 9/11 Can Teach Us About Responding to COVID-19
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Covid-19 Opportunity
John Kendall Hawkins
An Age of Intoxication: Pick Your Poison
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Propaganda Virus: Is Anyone Immune?
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 1: Dispatches From a Terrified Heartland
Nolan Higdon – Mickey Huff
Don’t Just Blame Trump for the COVID-19 Crisis: the U.S. Has Been Becoming a Failed State for Some Time
Susan Block
Coronavirus Spring
David Yearsley
Lutz Alone
CounterPunch News Service
Letter from Truthdig’s Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer to the Publisher Zuade Kaufman
CounterPunch News Service
Statement From Striking Truthdig Workers
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail