Achhe din for India, Rajnath Singh thinks Trump copied Modi

BJP is celebrating the Republican's victory as their own.

 |  5-minute read |   10-11-2016
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Populist leaders are more united by a common language than ideology. Their language is rhetorical targeted at elites and established leaders of society, politics and culture.

They appeal to mostly those sections of the society who feel neglected and marginalised by the elites. And they are opportunist to the core in using people’s anger and vulnerabilities to their own political advantage.

Having used people’s anger by deploying language of populism, Donald Trump put on an entirely different persona once he won the race to the White House.

At his victory speech soon after Hillary Clinton phoned him to concede defeat, Trump used a language that reminded one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches.

Here are some highlights from Trump’s victory speech:

“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans.”

He called his campaign a movement like Modi did.

“It is a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds, and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people. We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.”

Does it a ring a familiar bell? It does.

I thought I was listening to Modi. I thought Trump had borrowed Modi’s ideas. Perhaps, Modi’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas” patented jumla was loaned by Trump.

Here was an American billionaire, a rank outsider to politics, who had been so divisive and abusive towards blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and women throughout his campaign.

trumpbdreu_111016072627.jpg Donald Trump put on an entirely different persona once he won the race to the White House. (Photo: Reuters)

After speaking so many lies and hate, now he was speaking a language of reconciliation. After dividing the people, he was giving a lesson in unity and oneness.

But it shouldn’t sound surprising if we take up the Modi model. Populists change colours fast. Deceit is their favourite weapon.

After being elected as the prime minister, Modi has often talked language of reconciliation, unity and development of all sections of the society. But he seldom practices what he preaches.

Either he maintains tactical silence when the occasions cry for his intervention, or acts in a manner that contradicts his populist positions.

There has been little action on his part to show that the government was keen on carrying out the “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas” promise.

It’s because of the populist nature of Trump’s campaign that his promise to work for all Americans at the victory speech sounded so hollow.  

But Modi and his friends wouldn’t think so. They are gloating over Trump’s success as they think the US President-elect has borrowed Modi’s ideas to win.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh is proud of Trump’s victory. So much so that the BJP is celebrating Trump’s victory as their own.

"During US presidential election, Donald Trump had said that he would work on policies of Modi. Now he has become the President. We should feel proud." This is the home minister’s statement at BJP’s Parivartan Yatra in UP.

Skip to 12:00 and see for yourself:


Singh is so enamoured of Modi’s “magic” that he thinks that Trump boosted his prospects by using the prime minister’s image. That’s an immature statement coming from the home minister of India.

There is more: “Modi has gained popularity globally through his foreign policies. This is the reason why politicians like Trump eulogised Modi's image and policies to boost his prospects in US presidential election and won.”

Really, using Modi’s ideas to boost his prospects?

During the campaign, Trump’s punch line ad, “Abki baar Trump sarkar”, a take on “Abki baar, Modi sarkar,” to reach out to the American Hindu community cockled the hearts of BJP and Hindutva brigade. 

But Trump has been speaking in forked tongues about India at his campaign rallies. While, he has lauded India for its economic growth, he has also accused India of stealing American jobs and promised to bring them back.

However, there are reasons for Rajnath Singh’s admiration for Trump. 

A powerful nationalist and xenophobic wave is sweeping the world. It has put populist and authoritarian leaders in power from the US to Latin America, from Europe to Asia. Authoritarianism is on the rise. Liberalism is in retreat.

Donald Trump as US President will be in company of populist and authoritarian leaders such as Russian president Vladimir Putin, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte and many others. 

Not to forget Narendra Modi, whose espousal of ultra-nationalist policy forms the core of his populism and exposes his authoritarian tendencies from time to time.

"Make America Great Again", was Trump's key slogan during his US election campaign. That’s the political mantra each of the populist leaders has adopted.

Make India great is one of the slogans of Modi. He rode on the wave of angry populism by using people’s fear and insecurity.

Trump has exploited fear and insecurities of the white middle and working class Americans to win the election.

Voters had bought Modi’s promise of ridding India of the tag of a "soft state" that was left vulnerable to blackmails of Pakistan and China’s pinpricks.

After the surgical strikes across the Line of Control against Pakistan, the Modi government has brought the country in a perpetual state of war on the LoC and international border.

Trump’s victory will give further boost to populist leaders such as Modi and others across the world to pursue politics of brinkmanship with more zeal than before.

Modi was among the first leaders to congratulate Trump on his victory. He has spoken to Trump expressing desire for closer India-US relationships.

Will the common bond of populism and mutual admiration bring positive gains for India?

Also read: Trump or Modi, democracies cannot despair


Ashok K Singh Ashok K Singh @kashoksingh

He is a journalist, writer and commentator.

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