ith Joe Biden emerging the winner in US Presidential race, the top BJP leadership has started to think of ways to repair the damage PM Narendra Modi’s open support to President Donald Trump has caused.
After the US Presidential election results were declared, Trump’s failure in his bid for a second term in office may cause great damage to Indo-US relationship because of the way the Modi dispensation got involved in the internal politics of America. In fact, the repair exercise began, it is being rumored, three days back when the counting of votes indicated Biden was going to trump Trump in a photo finish. No other Prime Ministers of India had ever campaigned for any US Presidential candidate the way Modi did during his US tour last year when he urged the Indian diaspora to vote for Trump who desperately needed those votes to keep alive his hope for victory. It caused diplomatic hassles then and the Opposition parties went hammer and tongs against Modi for breaching the time-tested foreign policy option of not openly siding with any US Presidential candidate. The burden of Opposition criticism was that Indo-US ties would come under strain in the event of Trump’s defeat and victory of a Democratic Presidential candidate. Modi didn’t care for diplomatic finesse or niceties, waved his hand along with Trump at the packed stadium in Houston like a rock star and sought the support of the Indian settlers for the incumbent President. That was Howdy Modi. Not stopping there, Modi invited Trump to visit India and attend a program that was titled Namastey Trump in Gujarat. A huge crowd was organized for that rally.
The moment the chances of victory for Trump started receding slowly, but steadily, the worried BJP leadership tried to delink Modi from Trump in a subtle way. First the party president JP Nadda and then its ideologue and influential RSS leader Ram Madhav were fielded for damage control. Nadda used a Bihar poll campaign rally to project Modi as a more competent leader than Trump. Nadda suggested it would be wrong to bracket Modi with Trump. He said Trump was witnessing a setback in key states because of poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Modi has “succeeded in keeping the situation under control.”
“America mein kya aarop laga? Ki Donald Trump corona ko theek tarike se handle nahi kar saka…Yahi hai na aarop? (What was the charge against the US President? That he mishandled the pandemic. This is the charge, right?),” Nadda asked the crowd. “But Modiji’s intervention at the right time has saved 130 crore people from coronavirus,” Nadda said. The fact, however, is India is now second only to the USA in terms of the number of corona cases and deaths. According to the latest figures released by the Johns Hopkins University’s Centre for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) 47.3 million people have contracted the virus globally of which the USA accounts for over 12 million and India 8.3 million. Over 230,000 people have died in the USA against 123,000 in India. Nadda conveniently forgot the excruciating pain migrant workers had to undergo because of the shoddily planned and theatrically announced first lockdown by Modi on 24 March 2020 at that horrible timing of 8 pm.
No sooner had Nadda given the first hints of distancing Modi from Trump than Ram Madhav wrote an article to allay fears that Biden-Kamala Harris winning team could be “bad news” for US-India relations. In an attempt to insulate Modi, he mouthed the trite, old cliché: “There are no permanent friends, or permanent enemies; only permanent interests”.
The Modi government’s controversial Kashmir policy, the National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Act have reportedly “disappointed” Biden. It’s time Modi learns foreign policy can’t be geared to suit the ruling party’s narrow, domestic agenda. What has been painstakingly built over decades in India’s foreign policy is now being thrown away because a few people at the top are incapable of understanding international diplomacy and its delicate nuances.