'Howdy, Modi!': Trump, planned at Texas rally for India's head, Thousands, plus.

'Howdy, Modi!': Trump, planned at Texas rally for India's head, Thousands, plus.

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Some 50,000 Indian-Americans are planned to carry into a Houston stadium Sunday for a rally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, entered by U.S. President Donald Trump, in a rare piece show of support for an international leader on U.S. soil.
The event gives Modi, a nationalist facing international criticism over a recent crackdown in disputed Kashmir, a chance to energize his relationship with Indian-Americans who are active political supporters. Trump, meantime, will face a mostly foreign-born audience who cannot prove responsible for his usual outspoken anti-immigrant news.

Houston is a rare Democratic refuge in Republican-dominated Texas and works as the economic pillar of a state that will be crucial to Trump’s 2020 reelection bid. Polls show tepid guide by Indian-American voters, some 75% of whom voted for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in 2016.
But organizers of the “Howdy, Modi!” event, due to kick off in the morning with a 90-minute cultural program featuring 400 costumed dancers, say Trump can expect a receptive audience.

“Trump is totally greeted by the community,” said Preeti Dawra, a spokeswoman for the Texas India Forum that planned the event. “His appearance is a sign of his support and endorsement of the strengthening of India’s relationships with America. This event is about strengthening those ties.”

It will not be the first time Modi, who heads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has addressed a large crowd in the United States, which is home to about 4 million Indian-Americans including approximately 300,000 in Houston and nearby Dallas, according to a Pew Research Center study of U.S. Census data.

Some 19,000 people trained out for a similar event in New York in 2014, and Indian-American missionaries living in U.S. suburbs helped run a telephone blitz of voters in India in the runup to his May reelection campaign.

“Modi’s becoming here shows the effect of the Indian-American diaspora for him,” Dawra said. “We will show him on Sunday the energy the diaspora has for his power.”

KASHMIR CRACKDOWN

Modi’s visit to Houston proceeds forward of this week’s U.N. General Assembly in New York and among an especially anxious time on the subcontinent.

The Indian leader additional strained high-simmering connections with Pakistan last month by denying the incomplete independence experienced by Muslim-majority Kashmir, which both nuclear-armed countries claim. Modi’s move has been joined by international criticism.

Pakistan has analyzed the crackdown and its Prime Minister Imran Khan urged it would encourage further of the world’s Muslims toward extremism.

Members of India’s religious opposition Sikh and Muslim groups are proposing noisy groups near the stadium to protest Modi’s Kashmir policy.

The U.S.-India alliance on trade and rates is ragged right now, though Trump and Modi appear to have great personal bonds.

But Devesh Kapur, leader of Asia Programs at Johns Hopkins University, who has posted a book on Indian-Americans, affirmed that while the group would surely have particular benefit for both leads.

Kapur also forecasts small development concerning Trump’s status with Indian-Americans.
“The Trump administration’s hard-line tactics on emigration ... have hardly attached (him) to the society,” Kapur stated. “Appearing with PM Modi might gently support but absolutely not convert the society’s overall pro-Democrat leanings.”

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