Is Donald Trump better for India or Joe Biden? S Jaishankar answers
India’s partnership with the United States will continue to grow whether a Republican or Democrat is elected to the White House in the November elections, external affairs minister S Jaishankar has suggested. Jaishankar’s assertion comes against the backdrop of the two sides competing to woo the 1.2 million Indian-American community that has emerged as a key constituency in battleground states that could settle the race with wafer-thin margins.
“If you look at the last four American presidents, two Republicans and two Democrats — each very different from the other. Yet, each raised the level of relationship with India further,” Jaishankar said in response to a question if Donald Trump was better for India, or Joe Biden.
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“Each President has developed on the legacy of the previous one when it comes to India. And if you follow the debates in the US now, you will find many differences between the competing candidates, but India is a common point,” Jaishankar said in an interview with Hindustan Times on Saturday. The minister stressed that though candidates criticised each other on many policies, this didn’t happen when ties with India is the topic.
“I actually believe that India has bipartisan, or in a sense non-partisan, support in American politics. Our footprint is very wide and so is our acceptability. Different sets of politicians who disagree on many things agree on India. And I think that is a very good place to be,” the minister said.
The approach of the two parties towards Indian Americans is seen to reflect their standpoint on India as well.
Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president has named Senator Kamala Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, as his running mate.
Donald Trump had been working on this constituency for quite some time, like when he accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi last September to the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston, a rare Democratic stronghold in Republican-dominated Texas. Five months later, Trump flew 17 hours to India for a quick 36-hour visit, mostly to address the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Gujarat.
A majority of the Indian-Americans voters have traditionally been seen to support the Democrats; a survey of Asian Americans suggested that 55% of Indian Americans who voted in the 2016 election held a “very unfavorable” to “somewhat unfavorable” view of Trump. The US President has been trying to change this voting pattern. At the Gujarat event, he did hold out hopes of sealing a “very big trade” deal with India and showered praises on PM Modi who reciprocated generously.