PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI was with US President Donald Trump in Houston, Texas. It was a Sunday. It was a very bad day for President Trump.
Trump said India never had and will never have a better friend in the White House.
Modi said Ab Ki Baar, Trump Sarkar.
Trump is set to fight his second term election. Modi is forever in electioneering mode.
But as we said, it was a very bad day for Trump.
A whistle blower had revealed days earlier that Trump had pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in connection with the allegations of corruption he (Trump) had made earlier against Biden. Someone had heard the conversation, and now an official complaint had landed at the White House.
Joseph R. Biden Jr
Trump's White House was refusing to hand over the complaint to the Congress. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee had also resisted attempts to force Trump’s White House to give Congress a copy of the complaint.
Sunday was a very bad day for Modi's friend.
On Sunday, before coming to Modi's Howdy jamboree, Trump was forced to admit that he did indeed do what was alleged in the complaint. This was a stunning admission and must have left the organisers of Modi event scared that Trump might not finally show up.
Trump did, but something else also showed up.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a warning to the White House: Turn over the secret whistle-blower complaint by Thursday, or face "serious escalation from Congress."
There was more bad news: The influential chairman of the House Intelligence Committee dropped his resistance. Many moderate freshman lawmakers earlier opposed to an impeachment inquiry said they planned to change course.
Modi was tightly clenching the hand of his friend whose other arm was being badly twisted by the Congress. Unlike the Congress that Modi deals with, this one carries real power.
The US President has a remarkable record of being respectful towards women, as underlined by Hollywood Access Tapes. He has stated on tape how he handles or wants to handle women, and what parts do his hands grab. Modi shook those hands for a long, long time.
Trump has confirmed he did speak to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on phone, said it was all "entirely appropriate" but did not say that he did not talk about allegations against Biden. In fact, he has confirmed the substance of the conversation, as alleged by the whistle blower.
He did so just before leaving for a trip to Houston, Texas, where Modi was waiting for him.
Trump is roiling in scandal. If the latest scandal surrounding his conduct leads Pelosi or other top Democrats to bless full impeachment proceedings and a vote, Modi might prove to be a very bad omen.
Currently, the House Judiciary Committee is already investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump over other matters.
Being seen with Trump, conceiving, organising, sharing an event at this grand scale was certainly a very brave decision of Narendra Modi, considering the kind of person Trump is. The US President has a remarkable record of being respectful towards women, as underlined by Hollywood Access Tapes. He has stated on tape how he handles or wants to handle women, and what parts do his hands grab. Modi shook those hands for a long, long time.
Trump is facing serious allegations of obstruction of justice, detailed by the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The only reason he is not facing impeachment is that it could end in an acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Clearly, Trump's hold on the Republican Party is not as strong as Modi's on BJP. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has said the White House should disclose the contents of the phone call with Ukraine's Zelensky, and that "it would be good for the country if we could deal with it.” The New York Times on Sunday reported that Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, was even more critical, deeming it "critical for the facts to come out.”
"If the president asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme,” he said.
Modi was busy gambling big — he did not wait for whether Trump will be facing impeachment soon or not. He declared: "Ab ki baar, Trump sarkar
One can understand Ukraine's troubles. Ukraine has been fighting Russian-backed separatists, and the Trump administration is currently withholding a $250 million package of military funding. If Kiev tells the world what Trump wanted to do to Biden and his son, it will not get the money from Trump. If it does not, it may not get a penny if Joe Biden ever becomes the president. And Biden is a serious candidate and in the running for a Democratic Party nomination.
How does one understand India's stance? What, if tomorrow, Biden is in the Oval office?
One way out is that Modi can conceive and organise a "Howdy Biden" event on an even larger scale, and hug and embrace Biden even more, and hold his hand for even longer. Biden’s hands would be cleaner, of course.
Donald Trump is not exactly an intellectual powerhouse. He has never been seen with a book. He is not known for any kind of sophistication.
On Sunday morning, exactly when Modi was not letting go of Trump's hand and Trump was repeatedly putting his arm around Modi's shoulder, the US House Intelligence Committee chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, said that the accumulating evidence of wrongdoing, and of a presidential cover-up unfolding in real time, left the House with few other options.
Exactly when all Indian channels thought that the devotional songs and clone Bollywood style choreographed numbers were really the prime time television that this nation of 130 crore people needed very badly, Schiff was on CNN: "I have been very reluctant to go down the path of impeachment...but if the president is essentially withholding military aid at the same time he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader into doing something illicit, providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that (impeachment) may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that that conduct represents.”
The US lawmakers are clearly moving towards a direct discussion about and possibility of impeachment. If that happens, then, Ab Ki Baar, we will have egg on our face.
Modi was hailing Indian-origin Americans in America. That, one presumes, included Pramila Jayapal, the only India-origin Representative in the House. She represents Washington and is the co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus.
In an interview on Sunday, she said she was now ready to vote outright to impeach Mr. Trump, rather than simply continuing the investigation, and that she planned to make her case in public.
Modi was also making his case in public.
You are the public.
Ab Ki Baar, Howdy Doody, Youdy?