Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s India connection with the Hindu right in US was on show at a fundraiser recently. Trump has a closer connection than what most would think. The real estate mogul has huge investments planned or in progress including in places like Gurgaon and Pune. The Indian-American community is three-million strong in the US contributing significantly to the American economy with a majority of the population engaged in high paying professions, those that also create more jobs.
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Republican Hindu Coalition’s Humanity United Against Terror Charity event on October 15 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison raised close to a million dollars for Trump’s presidential campaign. At the same event Trump praised PM Modi and bashed China for theft of hundreds of billions of dollars of intellectual property. All in all, he tried to say all the right things that the Indian population present there wanted to hear from an American president.
According to several polls in the US, the Hindu right accounts for only about 7-8 per cent of the Indian-Americans in the US. Most of the Indian diaspora votes and is aligned in favour of Democrat Hillary Clinton. However, many in policy circles in India have started seeing a Trump presidency as one that would favour India more owing to his hardline stance against terrorism, Pakistan and China. Although he is eccentric and unpredictable, Trump’s lauding of Prime Minister Narendra Modi hints prospects of a healthy and clear working relationship between the US and Indian governments.
Obviously there are issues like conflict of interests if Trump takes the Presidential chair in the Oval Office. Several of his investments have come into questions for alleged irregularities and investigative agencies have been urged by many to investigate his partners and bureaucrats involved in those deals. Trump admits that his businesses in India are booming and are creating a lot of jobs so it is no secret that he has business interests here.
This conflict of interest can potentially influence his India policy to India’s benefit or he may also resort to armwrestling to wriggle out of any scanners. Most likely, he’ll continue his position to support India taking a hard stand against Pakistan as is evident from his outspoken campaign speeches.
Unlike Hillary, who had vocally campaigned against PM Modi when he was Gujarat chief minister for several years in an alleged rights violations and riots case, Trump has courted the Indian Prime Minister. The DNC hack and a recently released cache of emails has put Hillary on weak grounds undermining her idealistic and principled President pitch.
American media termed Trump’s expansion plans into India as chilling consequences of a Trump presidency but the same media has also
American weekly Newsweek reported recently that Trump signed a deal with Indian realtor Rohan Lifescapes to construct a 65-storey skyrise in Pune but that was blocked by the govt agencies on violation of building norms. Despite Donald Trump Jr meeting then Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan personally to plead Trump’s case, Indian government did not budge. Some have said that Trump may also try arm wrestling with Indian government to push his business interests if he is made President. But the stakes are higher for India than a building in Pune.
Newsweek said that Trump has made close ties with the BJP and the NCP due to his business interests in Maharashtra and Haryana. Also, knowing that the BJP has roots in the RSS, Trump seems to be courting the majority Hindu community and also the BJP in India towards him.