THE Gujarati language is the lingua franca of Indian stock exchanges. Gujarati businessmen traditionally play both sides of the political street and this is no different in the US, where migrants from the state constitute the largest component of Indians.
While Gujarat was welcoming President Donald Trump its business community out of sheer instinct was probing a strategy to deal (or cope) with a Bernie Sanders presidency; his amazing successes in significantly multicultural and multiracial races would be stalking the visitor.
Of course, the businessmen have to be ready for contingencies wherever they be, and they have acquired the financial sinews to steer their interests, which is what counts in the existing American political format. It may not be a coincidence, therefore, that of the two sons of the late polyester magnate Dhirubhai Ambani, one attended the swearing-in of the Clinton presidency and the other was invited to the Bush Jr inauguration.
But what would Trump have to offer Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who the Gujarati businessmen had helped win India’s top job in 2014? What is it that could not be given or traded without the visit? There’s talk of six nuclear reactors, military helicopters and possibly an American push for an alternative to India’s Huawei telecom option. This menu may or may not fructify.
While Gujarat was welcoming Trump, its business community was probing a strategy to deal with a Bernie Sanders presidency.
Available explanations for the visit remind me of my university. The leftist students’ union of Jawaharlal Nehru University was marching to the vice chancellor’s office to demand his resignation as an alleged colluder in Indira Gandhi’s emergency. “Nagchaudhry hosh mein aao, hosh mein aa ke istifa do [Nagchaudhry come to your senses, after coming to your senses tender your resignation],” roared a comrade who was indulgently nicknamed Tanashah. I ribbed Tanashah and wondered whether the vice chancellor would not be ready to resign without coming to his senses. Would Trump have to visit the Taj Mahal for the nuclear reactors to be bought and sold?
The fact is Prime Minister Modi is sold on President Trump. It is unusual for a serving leader to openly canvass support for a leader of another country in their domestic election. But Mr Modi is an unusual man. Be that as it may, what does his love of Trump imply for India’s national interests? If it’s truly crucial for India that Trump must win next year, with Mr Modi’s blessings, no doubt, would it be conversely harmful for India’s interests if his rival pips him at the post?
By aligning himself so unabashedly with Trump’s re-election campaign, Modi has explicitly directed his country’s foreign policy not to a specific country but to a person, and his government is now committed to the hilt with the objectives of the prime minister and his Hindutva hordes in the US.
Would cheering or supporting a different candidate in the critical US elections to the one backed by the Modi be deemed an anti-national sentiment? Differing with the prime minister on key issues in the past has attracted the British-era penalty of sedition no less.
Away from the two-day presidential visit, which primarily seeks to consolidate Trump’s hold on Indian voters and election financiers, galloping past his Democratic rivals is Bernie Sanders who could be in line to become the first Jewish president of the United States. We believe well begun is half done. If that’s a valid aphorism, Sanders is nicely on his way to claim the Democratic mantle to challenge President Trump next year.
Many or possibly all his voters who perversely flocked to Trump to spite Hillary Clinton and also to mock the Democratic establishment for apparently stealing from Sanders his candidacy in 2016 should be returning home to trounce the incumbent.
This is the emerging scenario after the Nevada races. There is of course the proverbial slip between the cup and the lip. Then there are the sly media folk who have been trying to airbrush Sanders by giving all the time to his rivals. One has never quite trusted the likes of The New York Times or the CNN after they colluded with the deep state in the fake narrative to invade Iraq in lockstep with Colin Powell under the Bush Jr presidency.
Their stories are to be thus taken with dollops of salt, currently for spelling doom for America under a ‘socialist’ leader who in reality merely wants to make his country as politically agreeable and economically equitable as The Netherlands, no more, no less. There was an allegation of Russian collusion too with the Sanders campaign. Clearly, the establishment is getting desperate and they are preparing to stall his advance by hook or by crook.
Assuming the Nevada way is more or less how it would be playing out for Sanders in the remaining caucuses, his candidacy as the challenger to Trump should worry not only the Republican Party and President Trump and, of course, Prime Minister Modi, but several others in the right-wing club would be quaking in their boots.
Certainly not the least affected of these would be Benjamin Netanyahu. If he is not convicted for corruption by the next US election, he could be politically orphaned with a Trump defeat. Strange are the curious ways of temporal dialectics that make religious bonding irrelevant, even an impediment at just the wrong moment. Bernie Sanders and Netanyahu represent the opposite ends of the Jewish spectrum.
The Israeli right’s alliance with Trump and Modi is a subject for Miss Marple’s investigation. Trump’s mass base as glimpsed in Charlottesville, is built around a white supremacist pivot that targets synagogues and non-white Christians with equal ferocity. Modi’s entire life has been devoted to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, which gleefully propounded Hitler’s treatment of Jews as a model to be applied on Indian Christians and Muslims. So how does the coalition of right-wing opposites work? Just to answer the question, Sanders needs to win.
The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020