Trump may be ‘surprise guest’ at PM Modi’s Houston rally: report

Atleast 50,000 Indian-Americans have registered to participate in the rally, which is likely to see several other U.S. politicians also take part.

September 15, 2019 04:20 am | Updated 04:20 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with U.S. President Donald Trump. File photo.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with U.S. President Donald Trump. File photo.

Anticipation over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming rally in Houston, U.S. has grown over a report that U.S. President Donald Trump might be a “surprise guest” at the event on September 22nd, although both the Ministry of External Affairs and rally organisers wouldn’t confirm the information.

According to a report in online news media The Wire , Indian and U.S. officials have been in touch since Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump met at the G-20 summit in France last month over the possibility of the U.S. President attending the “Howdy Modi” rally in Texas. The report said that the two leaders would likely announce a trade deal while in Houston together as well.

When asked, a senior MEA official said that it was not possible to comment on Mr. Trump’s appearance “at this stage”, but didn’t deny the report suggesting it. The media coordinator for the Howdy Modi rally, Rishi Bhutada also told The Hindu that they had “no information” about the U.S. President’s plans to attend the rally next Sunday. Atleast 50,000 Indian-Americans have registered to participate in the rally, which is likely to see several other U.S. politicians also take part.

While the U.S. President has not attended one of Mr. Modi’s previous rallies in the U.S., his Wembley stadium rally in the U.K. in 2015 was attended by then-PM David Cameron, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu joined Mr. Modi for a similar event in Tel Aviv for people of Indian origin there.

Mr. Trump’s appearance at the rally will also be a strong personal signal in favour of Mr. Modi, as he faces concerns from a number of U.S. lawmakers over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir after the dilution of Article 370. On September 13, after four senators wrote to President Trump calling for attention to the communication ban in parts of the state, seven Congressmen wrote another letter addressed to U.S. Ambassadors in Delhi and Islamabad asking them to “leverage their relationships” with the respective governments to ensure tensions are de-escalated, and the government releases those detained and restores communication.

About 1,00,000 people have also signed an online petition demanding that U.S.-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation rescind plans to award PM Modi for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan programme, during his visit to the U.S. between September 21-28.

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