Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to start his official state visit to the United States on 22 June 2023, where he will be addressing the joint session of Congress and attending a state dinner at White House. Prime Minister Modi says the visit is aimed to “deepen India-US ties in key sectors like trade, commerce, innovation, technology and other such areas”. However, Reuters last week reported that the US is pushing India to seal a big armed Sea Guardian drone purchase worth $2-3 billion. Earlier this year Air India (previously a public sector company) now owned by Indian Conglomerate Tata Sons, signed an agreement to purchase 200 aircrafts from the US manufacturer Boeing. President Biden described the deal ‘reflects the strength’ of Indo-US economic partnership, and was looking forward to strengthening this relationship even further, as both countries continue to ‘confront shared global challenges’- China?
Is this the shared global challenge that makes Joe Biden and the U.S. receive Narendra Modi despite his abysmal track record of human rights violations and democratic degradation of India or is it because Modi will allow trade deals that benefit American corporations?
Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States comes in the backdrop of turbulent and volatile internal politics of India. The Northeastern state of Manipur which has a government of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is witnessing an ongoing ethnic violence that has already killed more than 100 people predominantly Christians that belong to the Kuki tribe and thousands have been displaced from their homes.
India’s Olympic medal winning female wrestlers are protesting since January demanding a proper investigation into the sexual assault complaints made against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief, senior BJP leader and parliamentarian Brij Bhushan Singh. The actions of Delhi police who tried to intimidate the wrestlers by forced detention and suppress the protest has derived condemnation from wider Indian public and international sports fraternity.
Narendra Modi has kept his usual silence in both the issues, and his government maintained its usual inaction. Narendra Modi and his BJP are expert at using his foreign visits to divert public attention from crucial internal issues whenever the government comes under fire.
On May 13th 2023, Narendra Modi and BJP faced an unprecedented defeat in the Karnataka State elections. Prime minister Modi was leading BJP’s elections campaign in Karnataka and attended 19 rallies and 6 roadshows. However, the people of Karnataka overwhelmingly rejected Narendra Modi, and BJP lost its only stronghold state in South India. The main opposition Indian National Congress bagged a thumbing victory and formed a government in Karnataka. BJP’s defeat in Karnataka sent shock waves across the top leadership of BJP as they fear this is the beginning of the end of Modi’s stardom that alone was supposed to be enough for them to win elections. Ten days after the Karnataka election defeat, Modi flew into Australia even after the QUAD summit was cancelled when Joe Biden pulled out to focus on debit talks. Modi in Australia, without any major official agenda on his list, attended a pre-planned private PR event at Sydney organized by his party men and hundreds of right-wing followers chanting Modi, Modi. Anthony Albanese attended this aggrandizing event as a guest in his own country and was seen saying ‘Modi is the Boss’.
The people of Karnataka who defeated Narendra Modi even after him attending 19 rallies and 6 massive road shows, proved to be a hundred times more democratic and politically conscious than Anthony Albanese who played second fiddle to Modi at this right-wing paid PR event.
Is it surprising then that when the people of India are democratically rejecting Modi, Western neoliberal masters like Albanese and Joe Biden project him as the ‘Boss’ because the last thing these leaders would want is for Narendra Modi to lose the next Indian general elections with a left leaning government in New Delhi that prioritizes the people of India over corporate interests.
After all the Russian crude that India buys has many takers across the democratic ‘anti-war’ Western world, the leaders of which have turned a blind eye to ongoing Chinese incursion on Indian soil.