A rousing welcome to Prime Minister Modi at ‘Howdy Modi,’ Houston
History seems to mock at all those who wrongly believe that they are making history by their acts of intolerance and hatred towards political leaders who appeared daunting and a challenge to them. Watching the TV last night, I was astounded at the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accorded an unprecedented rousing welcome at the NRG Stadium in the ‘Howdy Modi’ event. The event gained great importance because of the unexpected participation by the President of America Donald Trump. No ordinary achievement this, both for the organisers of the event and also to the iconic personality of Narendra Modi himself. Probably, it is for the first time the President of America is seen participating in a non-official event in a manner any Head of the State in the world would envy.
As I watched the TV, I was mesmerised by the way the US President spoke. After Prime Minister Modi delivered an extraordinary and apt welcome speech in immaculate English inviting Trump to deliver his speech, what a speech it was from Donald Trump !
I remember two points he made that received great applause from the audience. One was when he said, as members of the oldest Democracy and also the largest Democracy of the world, America and India, he highly valued the three beautiful words in both the Constitutions, “We The People.” This observation of Trump is very significant. Every free-thinking human being who values life, liberty and fraternity, irrespective of gender, must understand that the Constitutions of these great Democracies are not the creation of a Dictator or a Dynasty or a Coterie or an Oligarchy but the creation of We The People of the country.
Another point Trump underlined with vehemence and a sense of determination was when he said ‘the radical Islamic terrorism’ should be put an end globally, whatever it takes. There was a standing ovation and long drawn-out applause from the audience. It is, therefore, not surprising Prime Minister Modi during the course of his speech asked the audience to give a standing ovation to Trump for his support and love for India.
As I watched the proceedings, my thoughts went back to the days when Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat and had to face his first challenge by the Lutyens’ Club members soon after the Gujarat riots provoked by those who burnt the Railway compartment at Godhra with women and children returning from Ayodhya. Poor Modi was just about one-and-a-half years into his Chief Ministerial position. But, all the same, within 24 hours he had asked for the Army assistance to quell the riots where both Muslims and Hindus were killed. However, the then UPA Government and Lutyens’ Club projected Modi in a bad light and the so-called liberal academicians both in India and America wrote to American administration against giving Visa to Modi to visit the country. Surprisingly, Modi was not given Visa. What a paradox, now Modi is the most venerable and honoured guest of America where he can visit any time and even given special honour by the President of America personally.
The Indian Diaspora in America, who attended the ‘Howdy Modi’ event was interestingly bipartisan, which means it included Democrat and Republican supporters.
For the event, Modi arrived on time, but Donald Trump arrived one hour late. It was not deliberate or on purpose. It appears while he was flying to Houston, he was advised to make a stop on the way at a place where recently heavy rains and typhoon had devastated the region. No wonder Trump in his speech at the event made a reference to his visit promising all help and support to the victims of the natural disaster. He had to show his human face, like our politicians ! Otherwise, Democrats (like our Congress) would say, “Look he had time for the ‘fun event’ but not for ‘human suffering’.” Let it be.
The Democrats in America, however, seem to be like the Congress Party and UPA in our country. Having arrived on time, Narendra Modi allowed the Democratic Leader and Senate Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to speak first as he was waiting for Trump’s arrival. The Democratic Leader smartly utilised the opportunity to talk about both Mahatma Gandhi and the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. About Nehru he did not fail to describe him as a visionary who gave India Secular Democracy and safeguarded the pluralism and human rights. Sounded like Congress Agent!
Be that as it may, Narendra Modi, even by a slip of the tongue or leap of memory, did not mention neither Nehru nor Gandhiji nor anyone who ruled us in the past before 2014 and merely spoke about the present and future of the country. Of course, the greatest achievement of Modi’s first 100 days of his second term is undoubtedly the most challenging and historic decision of abrogating, or to use Modi’s exact words, of giving ‘farewell’ to the much- despised, the most sinister and discriminatory Article 370 of the Constitution. There was such a great euphoria among the audience in the crowded stadium, the whistling, screaming and applause reverberated through the stadium with the audience spontaneously giving a standing ovation to what Modi had said.
However, I greatly appreciated Modi when he asked the question, “Who was responsible for this? Certainly not Modi.” Then, after a pause, he said, “it is the Members of the Upper House and Lower House of our Parliament who gave the farewell to Article 370 by two-third majority.” With great presence of mind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised both his hands and requested the audience to give a standing ovation to the Parliamentarians of India. Once again this produced thunderous applause as the audience responded.
Like a nebula over the event, the Democratic Presidential candidate for 2020 American Presidential elections, Bernie Sanders had published an article in the Houston Chronicle criticising ‘Howdy Modi’ event because of the silence in India in the matter of human rights violations! Was he a Spokesperson of UPA? However, as a sort of sop, he also criticised Pakistan for playing bad role in Kashmir.
A number of minority groups of Indian origin like Gujarati Bohra Muslim community, Sikh community, ethnic Hindus and Kashmiri Pandits met Narendra Modi ahead of the event. Now that the pernicious Article 370 is consigned to the dustbin of Indian history, the Kashmiri Pandits, who were uprooted from Kashmir Valley by local militants, appealed to the Prime Minister to repatriate and rehabilitate them in their old home and hearth.
All said and done, Narendra Modi’s American Show has undoubtedly turned out to be India’s Greatest Show on Earth.
Jai Hind !
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