Modi’s tryst with destiny in Texas

Even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump left no stone unturned to showcase their mutual admiration at the Howdy Modi event in Texas, ‘devotees’ could not ignore the bitter aftertaste of a truth bomb dropped by House Majority leader Steny H. Hoyer where he mentioned the one man the entire right-wing supremacist ‘parivaar’ hates most and loves to blame for all of India’s misery… Nehru.

howdy modi

Hoyer said, “(India) Like America proud of its traditions to secure a future according to Gandhi’s teachings and Nehru’s vision of India as a secular democracy where respect for pluralism and human rights safeguard every individual.” While a mention of Gandhi is a staple at any India related event held anywhere in the world, his non-violence being our greatest export, Modi was perhaps not expecting a mention of Nehru!

Modi’s surprise is evident in the manner in which he reacts to the mention, staying all poised before the mention and then turning to Hoyer, trying desperately hard and failing miserably to hide the look of displeasure on his face, eventually just nodding along helplessly even as Hoyer rattled off words like “secular democracy” and “pluralism”, things Modi’s ideological gurus struggle with and he himself has a questionable track record of upholding. Check out the following video from 10:25 to 10:40. Just before this point Modi appears to be swaying gently, possibly to music playing at the event, but at the mention of Nehru’s name, his body language becomes tense and stiff.

Meanwhile, several human rights groups, many driven by expat Indians have held or a planning a variety of protests and demonstrations against Modi. Even as over 50,000 people were watching Modi speak live at the NRG stadium in Houston, protests against Modi were taking place just outside the venue. The demonstration was against how Modi dealt with the abrogation of article 370 and the subsequent human rights violations in Kashmir. But Modi supporters did not want news of protests against Modi to spread and even targeted Al Jazeera’s media crew, snatching away their camera!

Creative artists from the Indian diaspora also held a protest in New York even as the Howdy Modi event was going on in Houston. Titled “F (expletive) Modi” the protest was the result of coming together of DJ Rekha, punk rock band The Kominas, electronic/alt artist Vandana and indie rock band Zerobridge. A statement released by the event organisers said, “It is more important than ever for South Asians of conscience across the diaspora to come together in opposition to Modi, and as artists who identify outspokenly with our South Asian background, we want to do our part.” Part of the proceeds of the show will go towards “relief efforts in Kashmir.”

Upcoming protest
Meanwhile Coalition Against Fascism in India has given a protest call against Modi. The protest will be held from 10:30 AM onwards on September 27 at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City. A Facebook event created by the organisers says, “We call upon all anti-fascist, anti-racist, secular, and environmentalist groups and individuals in the United States to join us in protesting Modi’s visit to the United States and United Nations and in exposing the retrograde, near-fascist politics of Modi’s government.”

They list their demands as follows:
• Stop lynchings and attacks on Dalits and Muslims and Adivasis
• Stop sexual attacks and violence against women
• Stop plunder of natural resources that is exacerbating the climate crisis 
• Repeal all draconian laws being used against Adivasis, Dalits, minorities, environmentalists, and workers, and release of all political prisoners
• Release all human rights activists accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, and disabled Professor Sai Baba
•Withdraw fabricated cases against anti-caste activists such as Anand Teltumbde, human right workers, and teachers
• Restore articles 370 and 35A, end military occupation of Kashmir, and respect Kashmiris’ right to decide their future
• Repeal AFSPA in Kashmir and in the North East
The protest is sponsored by: Alliance for a Democratic and Secular South Asia, Hindus for Human Rights, India Civil Watch and the Indian American Muslim Council.

Following organisations have endorsed the protest:
Democracy, Equality and Secularism in South Asia (DESSA), Winnipeg
East India Defense Committee (EIDC), Vancouver
India Civil Watch (ICW-Canada)
International Action Center
International League of Peoples’ Struggles
International South Asia Forum (INSAF), New York
Party for Socialism and Liberation, Boston
Philadelphia Socialists
Philadelphia South Asian Collective
Popular Resistance
Punjabi Literary and Cultural Association, Winnipeg
South Asia Research and Resource Centre (CERAS), Montreal
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), Vancouver
South Asian Women’s Community Centre (SAWCC), Montreal
Women of Diverse Origins



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