Modi, Trump win hearts and minds at Houston event

The ‘Howdy Modi’ event at Houston’s NRG Stadium, above (Photo credit: PIB), on Sunday hosted by the Texas India Forum was supposed to be a non-political one but when the two leaders of the world’s oldest and largest democracies met and took the podium, the fight against terrorism took centre stage and drew standing ovation.

Days after Americans held ceremonies commemorating the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, US President Donald Trump told the 50,000 Indian-Americans gathered at the stadium that his government is committed to protecting innocent civilians from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.

Without mentioning Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech, asked the gathering where the conspirators of New York and

Mumbai terror attacks came from. It is time for decisive battle against terrorism, he said.

Explaining the scrapping of special status given to Jammu & Kashmir, Modi told the Indian-American community and

US leaders that this provision was abused by terrorists and their supporters in the Valley for decades.

The new government finally stepped in and the Indian Parliament removed the special status after long debates and voting in the upper and lower Houses telecast live on Aug 5 and 6. 

Some people (meaning Pakistan), who had been promoting cross-border terrorism, were upset by the move which gave people living in the region equal rights and opportunities. The whole world knows them.

Modi said he is an ordinary man working for 1.3 billion people to take India to new heights of development.

When anyone asks ‘Howdy, Modi!’ the reply is everything is fine in India, he said.

Calling Trump India’s true friend, Modi wished him a second term in office by saying ‘Ab ki baar Trump Sarkar’ (‘This time Trump government’), echoing his own winning slogan of 2014 elections – ‘Ab ki baar Modi sarkar’ (‘This time Modi government’).

Looking at the roaring crowd, he said the energy at NRG stadium is proof of India-USA synergy.

In his speech, Trump said the ties between India and the US are stronger than ever before.

Indians have never had a better friend as president than President Donald Trump and Modi knows that, he told the gathering.

He praised the nearly 4 million “amazing Indians” living in the US, enriching its culture, upholding its values and uplifting different communities.

He said Modi’s economic reforms have lifted more than 3 million people out of poverty. People of both countries are prospering like never before as both governments are trimming bureaucracy and cutting red tape.

India is investing in the US in a big way and the US is doing the same in India, Trump said.

He hailed the $2.5 billion liquefied natural gas supply deal signed between the Houston-based Tellurian and India’s Petronet LNG on Saturday.

Turning to security, Trump said both India and the US understand that to keep the countries safe, they must protect their borders.

Trump mentioned steps being taken to secure US’ southern border and stop illegal immigration.

After Modi’s long and energetic speech, he and Trump left the stage holding hands and walked around the floor waving to people.

That final act spoke volumes about the warm friendship between the two leaders.