“Abki Bar Trump Sarkar”, shouted an exultant Narendra Modi at the Howdy Modi event held in Houston, Texas, in September 2019 which was also addressed by then United States President Donald Trump. Besides the leaders of Trump’s Republican Party, nine to ten Democrats were also reported to be present.
Alas! Modi’s wish could not be fulfilled. Trump was ousted in disgrace by the electorate and Joe Biden was installed in the White House. And that is not a good news for Modi and his RSS-dominated outfit. Nor does it augur well for the organisers who were feeling on cloud nine after the ‘Howdy Modi’ event. About 50,000 people were said to have attended the event, many of them owing allegiance to the RSS/BJP, though head of the BJP’s Overseas Affairs Department Vijay Chauthaiwale had claimed that the event was organised neither by the BJP nor by the (Modi) government.
Joe Biden does not want those with RSS/BJP links in his administration. According to a report in The Tribune, Biden has appointed around 20 Indian-Americans in his administration but Obama administration staffer Sonal Shah as well as Amit Jani, who worked on the Biden campaign team, have so far been excluded, allegedly due to their RSS-BJP links which was brought into the limelight by over a dozen Indian-American organisations.
“Joe Biden’s team has people like senior diplomat Uzra Zeya, who had played a role in the Devyani Khobragade case, or Samira Fazili, who had joined protest rallies in the US against the CAA, NRC and the Kashmir lockdown. But those with RSS-BJP links have not found a place as secular Indian-American organisations have maintained the pressure on the Biden-Harris transition team to keep such individuals on the sidelines”, writes The Tribune quoting sources.
It is an embarrassing situation for Modi. Hoping to spread abroad the RSS ideology with the help of the United States, he has practically mortgaged India’s sovereignty to America through several bilateral defence agreements. The first such agreement was negotiated when Manohar Parrikar was the Defence Minister. After year-long discussions with US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, both of them had cautiously announced in Delhi that India and the United States have ‘agreed in principle to share military logistics’. The two, it appeared, had decided to release only bits of negotiations periodically for fear of the possible strong reaction of the people of India towards allowing the US, or any other country for that matter, to use Indian territory for its military purposes. The two countries had finalised a ‘Logistics Support Agreement’ that allows the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for supplies, repair and rest. Both sides claimed that this had become inevitable to ‘counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China’.
It was repeatedly emphasised by both sides that there was no question of stationing US troops on Indian soil. ‘As and when a situation arises, like an earthquake or a natural disaster, that is when it is directed at’, Carter had announced. Parrikar said, “It is a concept of logistics support” to provide “support for each other’s platform where they need fuel and supplies”.
Modi did what no other Prime Minister had done. America had been coveting Indian territory for use of its armed forces ever since India got independence. Nehru resisted it diplomatically all his years as Prime Minister. He did not succumb to the pressure even when the Chinese assertiveness had ceased to be a mere perception but become real as that country had advanced its troops on Indian territory. Indira Gandhi virtually snubbed America during the Bangladesh war when that arrogant super-power threatened to destroy India with its legendary nuclear-powered Seventh Fleet. Even Atal Behari Vajpayee considered it terribly against the national interests of India to allow Indian territory to be used by a foreign power for its military activities. The Chandra Shekhar government had, though, allowed the US armed forces the refuelling facilities in India during the 1991 Iraq conflict and there were widespread protests within the country.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the UPA government was inclined to accede to the US request for closer military cooperation. However, Defence Minister A K Antony, reportedly with the full backing of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, stood firm against any military relationship between India and America, and was jeered at by pro-American sections as a Leftist.