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When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally of 50,000 Indian Americans in Houston last month, a planned guest appearance by President Donald Trump stole the headlines. But a telling moment arrived when the announcer at the event — called Howdy Modi — began reading a prepared list of members of Congress who had been expected to attend. Among those named was Texas Rep. Al Green, a Democrat. But Green wasn’t there. A day earlier, he had announced in a statement that he was bailing from the event, calling it a “photo op” for Trump. He wasn’t alone.
India, a key strategic partner, has for decades enjoyed bipartisan support in Washington. But the growing public bonhomie between Modi and Trump and rising concerns over the Indian government’s lockdown on Kashmir are creating tensions between sections of the Democratic Party and New Delhi. And that could open a rare window for Republicans to target Indian American voters in 2020, say some leaders of the community, which has decisively leaned Democratic historically.
Commentators - Trump - Modi - Houston - Event
While political commentators focused on Trump as he stood by Modi, the Houston event was marked by the absence of multiple Democratic members of Congress who turned down invitations even as the White House announced that the president would be attending. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Rep. Brad Sherman and presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard were among those who chose not to attend, citing prior commitments. Sherman had previously been actively tweeting to ask his constituents to attend the Houston rally. Gabbard, the first Hindu member of Congress, has attended multiple past events with the RSS — the Hindu nationalist parent organization of Modi’s BJP party. In 2014, she had even gifted Modi her childhood copy of the Bhagavad Gita. But amid a presidential campaign focused on Trump, it isn’t easy for...
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