‘Howdy, Modi!’: Trump hails Indian PM at ‘historic’ Texas rally

Elias Hubbard
September 23, 2019

"Howdy Houston! It's a bright afternoon here in Houston".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hit out at Pakistan for its support to terrorism and said India's decision to nullify Article 370 has caused trouble to those who can not handle their country as he called for a "decisive battle" against terrorism.

Tens of thousands of Indian Americans and Non-Resident Indians gathered at Houston's NRG Stadium in Texas on Sunday, even as a large number of people protested outside the venue against India's actions in Kashmir and other places. "Modi!" and munched on concession stand snacks that included Indian staples of samosas and naan breads - along with nachos.

The spectacle was both campaign event for Trump and the show of the "strategic partnership between the world's oldest and largest democracies", as the White House put it.

India responded by slapping tariffs on more than two dozen US goods.

"When President Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, we will hear much about the friendship between the American and Indian peoples".

"And very soon India will have access to another world-class American product: NBA basketball", Trump told the crowd at the event Sunday.

Organizers expected roughly 50,000 people to attend the "Howdy Modi" rally at Houston's NRG Stadium. It is also indicative of a welcoming gesture towards the contributions of the Indian Diaspora in the United States.

In his remarks delivered in Hindi, Mr Modi said he was "impatient to take the country to new heights" and that "today the buzz word in India is development". The event has been organised with the help of more than 1,000 volunteers and 650 Texas-based Welcome Partner organisations.

Reports also said that the event will feature a 90-minute cultural programme titled, Woven: The Indian-American Story.

More than a 1,000 Gujaratis from Houston are preparing for a mega "dandiya", a traditional Gujarati dance, to welcome the Prime Minister for the event.

Watch his rendition of the national anthem here.

The timing of the tax cuts and events in the US also coincide with announcements of local elections in two Indian states that are key for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party.

"Today, we honor all of the fearless Indian and American military service members who work together to safeguard our freedom", Trump told the crowd.

But Indian-Americans voted overwhelmingly for his rival Hillary Clinton in 2016, despite high-profile Republicans in the community such as Nikki Haley, Trump's first ambassador to the United Nations.

Meeting with the community: After the event, the PM would also attend a community reception at the Centre. "Community members have travelled from across the country to be a part of this historic event", it said. "Under PM Modi's leadership, the world is witnessing a strong, sovereign republic of India".

In June, the Trump administration accused India of imposing a wide range of trade barriers, and the USA ended preferential trade deals with India.

President Donald Trump will join a pair of foreign leaders for events in Texas and OH on Sunday before heading to NY for a week of meetings with world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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