White House, State Department and U.S. Congress shower praise on Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Parliamentary Party meeting, accompanied by BJP President Amit Shah, L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and other senior leaders, at Central Hall of Parliament House, in New Delhi, May 25.

The Trump White House, the State Department and the U.S. Congress showered lavish kudos on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for their thumping victory, obviously awed by the sheer enormity of the Indian election, described by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi as a manifestation of “the majesty of democracy.”

President Trump, as soon as he was informed of the results, took to Twitter and wrote: “Congratulations to Prime Minister @NarendraModi and his BJP party on their BIG election victory! Great things are in store for the US-India partnership with the return of PM Modi at the helm. I look forward to continuing our important work together.”

The next day, on May 24, Trump tweeted, “Just spoke to Prime Minister @NarendraModi where I congratulated him on his big political victory. He is a great man and leader for the people of India — they are lucky to have him!”

A few hours later, in one of his impromptu news conference with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, before climbing on to Marine One to chopper to the Andrews Air Force Base to take Air Force One to Japan, he disclosed that he and Modi would be meeting at the G-20 Summit in Tokyo later this month.

He said that both he and the newly re-elected Indian leader were committed to further strengthen the U.S.-India strategic relationship and take the partnership to the next level, building on the tangible achievements of the last two years since the advent of his administration.

Not to be outdone, Vice President Mike Pence, tweeted, “Congrats to an American ally and friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his party’s win in India’s parliamentary election.

“This was a strong display of the Indian people’s commitment to democracy! We look forward to continuing to work with India for a freer, safer, and more prosperous region,” he said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also took to Twitter to congratulate Modi, saying, “Congratulations to @narendramodi and the NDA for their victory in India’s election, and to the Indian people for casting their votes in such historic numbers.

“As the world’s largest exercise in democracy, #India’s election is an inspiration around the world,” he said.

Administration and diplomatic sources told India Abroad that it was possible that either Pence or Pompeo or both may attend Modi’s inauguration ceremonies, “but if not them, you bet there will be high level representation at the most senior level of the administration.”

Meanwhile, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, in an off-camera gaggle with reporters, pointing to Modi’s overwhelming re-election with a “stronger mandate” said the administration looked to the U.S.-India relationship reaching new heights in the coming years.

“The U.S.-India partnership has never been stronger and never been better, and we certainly expect it to reach new heights in the coming years,” she said, and then went on to praise the impressive show of democracy that India had once again displayed to the world in all of its facets.

Saying that India’s elections are the world’s largest exercise in democracy, she described it as “a marvel of logistics and planning with 900 million people — an eighth of the world’s population — eligible to vote.”

Ortagus added, “We applaud the high turnout, estimated at around 66 percent or roughly 600 million people, and the government of India for their excellent execution of this incredible event.

“We are certainly underscoring today a historic democratic movement of at least 600 million people voting. I think it is pretty amazing,” she added.

Congratulatory tweets and statements from influential members of Congress, both in the Senate and the House, were also fast and furious.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), said, “As co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, I want to congratulate the Indian people on today’s historic election — the largest democratic election in history.”

The lawmaker, who is also vice chairman of the powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence added, “I look forward to continuing our work with prime minister Modi’s administration to strengthen our important alliance with India.”

The GOP co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, John Cornyn of Texas, tweeted, “Congratulations @narendramodi on your historic victory. Looking forward to seeing you soon.”

On the House side, Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement, congratulated the Indian people for diligently and in a shining example of exercising their civic duty, casting their ballot over the past five weeks to elect a new government.

“I send my warmest wishes to the hundreds of millions of Indian citizens who, over the course of the past five weeks, voted to elect a new government. Voting is one of the most important rights — and responsibilities — of those living in a democracy, and I congratulate the 600 million Indians who exercised this right,” he said.

Engel added, “The Indian people have spoken, and the United States Congress looks forward to continue working with India, and the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government to advance our shared goals on a host of issues, including human rights, defense, trade and economic growth, and climate change.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), chair of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, which has jurisdiction over affairs pertaining to South Asia, also hailed Modi and his BJP party’s massive victory and congratulated “the world’s most populous democracy” for holding “another successful election.”

The Republican vice-chair of this Subcommittee, Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida, in his congratulatory message to Modi and his party, said, “The world’s largest democracy and one of our strongest partners in the Indo-Pacific has chosen their leadership in free and fair elections.”

Three-term Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera (D-Calif.), the longest serving Indian- American in Congress, and also a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement also echoed similar sentiments.

“I congratulate the millions of Indian citizens who participated in India’s elections over the past five weeks,” he said, and pointed out, “These were the largest democratic elections ever and reflected India’s commitment to its founding ideals.”

Bera also congratulated Modi on his rousing re-election, and said he “looked forward to working with him and his government to advance the values and interests that bind our two nations.

“As the longest serving Indian- American in Congress, the future of our relationship remains, as ever, bright and enduring,” he added.

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) tweeted, “I look forward to strengthening the important US-India partnership,” and Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.), the GOP co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans said, “I look forward to working together to strengthen and expand the strong relationship between our two nations.”

In an interview with India Abroad, Krishnamoorti, an influential two-term lawmaker who serves on the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees, said, “As I think about the more than, I believe 600-700 million people who voted in the election and the 60 to 70 percent of all registered voters who ended up casting a ballot, we can all be in awe of the majesty of democracy.” He added, “I don’t think anybody questioned the fairness or the free exercise of the vote there, and to have done that in such a peaceful manner, they pulled off this grand exercise of democracy.”

And Krishnamoorthi reiterated, “They did it in a peaceful and deliberate and thoughtful manner, and that in itself is a gigantic accomplishment.”

“So, for that, we have to commend all of India — not any one party, but all of India.”

Asked about the huge concern among minorities in India that this massive BJP victory would only embolden the Hindutva extremists, who’ve been persecuting and attacking Muslims, Christian, and other groups like the Dalits, Krishnamoorthi said, “My hope is that every official of the (Indian) government does their utmost to combat any form of discrimination and intolerance and bigotry towards any community — that we remember that we are all children and that has to be something that every government official remembers going forward.”

The lawmaker, whose constituency in Illinois’ s 8th District, encompasses almost all of Chicago and boasts of one of the largest Indian and South Asian American populations in the country, said, “I was heartened by the prime minister’s inaugural tweets after the election —he talked about an ‘inclusive India’ and that was the right sentiment to mention and talk about.”

Thus, Krishnamoorthi said, “I am hopeful that we can see his tweet turn into concrete results for everybody.”

Presidential candidate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), the first Hindu-American to be elected to the U.S. Congress, told India Abroad she had sent “a personal message of congratulation” to prime minister Modi” on his re-election, and said she would also be “making a formal message of congratulation” upon his inauguration.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the newly re-elected Prime Minister Modi, who I have had a positive relationship with now for several years, and I’m confident that our relationship will continue to be so as we each work for the well-being of the American and Indian people respectively.”

Gabbard said that “it is extremely important that America — the world’s oldest democracy — and India — the world’s largest democracy — continue to work together to solve some of the most important issues facing our world such as combating climate change, preventing nuclear war and nuclear proliferation, protecting our oceans and rivers, improving the economic well-being of all of our citizens, as well as protecting individual’s freedoms and rights, including the freedom of speech and freedom of religion, without which no country can claim to be democratic.”

State Department spokesperson Ortagus said the administration looks forward to working with the new dispensation in New Delhi to continue “to accelerate the strategic partnership,” and redouble U.S.-India cooperation on a range of critical issues, including “counter-terrorism and ensuring a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”

The Ministry of External Affairs put out a statement saying, “President Trump congratulated the prime minister on the unprecedented electoral victory. The two leaders agreed to meet at the forthcoming G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, to discuss bilateral relations and global matters. They also agreed to work together for further enhancing the close and strategic partnership between the two countries.”

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