Views in American media split over Modi-Trump joint address

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump’s joint appearance before a strong crowd of 50,000 Indian American’s at an event underscores the growing strategic significance of the relationship between the two largest democracies of the world, a top American daily said on Sunday (September 22).

The event was covered in various ways by the international media. While some called Trump a second fiddle to Modi, others called the event, warming up act by Trump to gather more votes.

“The joint appearance also underscores the growing strategic significance of US-India ties. The world’s two largest democracies are a vital check on China’s ambitions to dominate the Asia-Pacific region, as Mr Trump recognises and Barack Obama did as well,” The Wall Street Journal said in an op-ed, hours after the two leaders historic address at the energy capital of the world.

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Describing it as a “spectacle in Houston”, The Wall Street Journal said Trump is hoping to pick up a larger share of this growing voters bloc in 2020 than he did in 2016. Trump understands the benefit of associating with Indian Americans, whose contributions are crucial to the prosperity of both nations in the 21st century, it added.

The New York Times said the rally brought together two leaders with similar styles.

“Both rose to power by embracing right-wing populism, portraying themselves as champions of the masses fighting against an entrenched establishment,” it said.

Both presented voters with a vision to make their respective countries “great again”, and both have fanned tensions along religious, economic and social fault lines, it reported.

At the same time, The New York Times said earning votes from Indian Americans will not be easy for Trump, even with Modi by his side. Indian Americans overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic party candidates, it noted.

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According to The Washington Post, the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies took the stage together in Houston before a roaring crowd of tens of thousands of Indian Americans, where Modi delivered an unmistakable endorsement of Trump’s presidency and cast their joint appearance in historic terms.

“The foreign strategy of soothing tensions with the United States by stroking President Trump’s ego was put into vivid effect here on Sunday when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lathered praise on his American counterpart at a massive rally celebrating the Indian diaspora,” it said.