Motera is done, what will Tuesday bring?

Both countries are closer than before due to these two leaders‘s public display of mutual connectivity and warm exchanges of words, but how it will help India to serve its interests will be known on Tuesday.
Sheela Bhatt reports from the Namaste, Trump event.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi welcomes United States President Donald J Trump and his wife Melania Trump at the Namaste, Trump event in Ahmedabad, February 24, 2020. Photograph: Al Drago/Reuters  

It is an incredibly high level of risk investment that Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi has undertaken in President Donald J Trump‘s future. The American president is up for re-election this November.

Before a 120,000-strong audience at Monday afternoon‘s event in Motera, Modi and Trump praised each other and hugged each other six times within 90 minutes of the United States president‘s arrival in India, so nothing was left to the imagination.

Trump‘s selection of words and delivery led his Indian audience to believe that what he said were his own beliefs and not just customary diplomatic declarations. His opening lines gave the audience at the Motera stadium the idea that a lot will happen in the next 24 hours.

“Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to an exceptional leader, a great champion of India, a man who works night and day for his country, and a man I am proud to call my true friend, Prime Minister Modi,” Trump declared. Earlier, Modi too didn‘t economise on adjectives to praise Trump in his speech.

“President Trump thinks big and what all he has done to fulfill American dreams is well known to the world,” Modi said, taking special care to talk about the Trump family.

Twice in his speech, Trump dubbed Modi a “very tough negotiator”.

On Tuesday, February 25, when the joint statements are issued after the delegation-level talks and when memoranda are signed, one will know if it was Trump‘s complaint about or compliment for Modi, the negotiator.

The much-watched event at the world‘s largest stadium was successful, but the severe heat somewhat dampened the audience‘s spirit. Temperatures hovered between 30 and 42 degrees at the newly built stadium between 9 am and 2 pm.

The Motera stadium is stupendous and will be a great national asset. Its 360 degree look and 100,000 plus people‘s presence has never been seen before in an Indian stadium.

Gujaratis gave Trump enough evidence that the ground beneath Modi‘s feet is solid. Trump received maximum applause when he spoke about ISIS and the American mission that executed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Modi and Trump‘s Motera show, at another level, was also a subtle conduct of tough negotiation in public.

Trump remained restrained and made no surprise comments on Kashmir or the CAA or religious freedoms which could have embarrassed the Indian establishment. These comments are still expected by many before the American president leaves India.

IMAGE: One of 6 bear hugs exchanged between Modi and Trump at the Namaste, Trump event. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo

Looking at Monday‘s show it seems clear that here are two business-like negotiators trying hard to bargain and unable to close a few deals as both have to keep their national interest in mind.

Their decisions worth billions of dollars on agriculture and military imports will touch millions of lives in both countries.

Trump provided many insights about his views on on terrorism and on defence ties. The audience at Motera, which was largely Bharatiya Janata Party voters, applauded only when Trump spoke on matters that concerned India‘s national interests.

“Every nation has the right to secure and control borders. The United States and India are committed to working together to stop terrorists and fight their ideology,” Trump declared 48 hours before the first anniversary of the Balakot strike where Indian Air Force fighters decimated a Jaish e Mohammad terror camp in Pakistan.

Both countries are closer than before due to these two leaders‘s public display of mutual connectivity and warm exchanges of words, but how it will help India to serve its interests will be known on Tuesday.

A night is a long time in diplomacy, even when it is on the fast track.

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