In Trump’s India rally, Modi bets on bolstering his image

AHMEDABAD, INDIA (AP) – A festive mood has enveloped Ahmedabad in India’s northwestern state of Gujarat ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting there today with United States (US) President Donald Trump, whom he’s promised millions of adoring fans.

The rally in Modi’s home state may help displace his association with deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that landed him a US travel ban. It may also distract Indians, at least temporarily, from a slumping economy and ongoing protests over a new citizenship law that excludes Muslims. But beyond the pageantry and symbolism of the visit, experts expect little of substance to be achieved for either side.

“For Modi, Trump’s visit to India offers a useful distraction from the domestic political tumult playing out across the country,” said Micheal Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Programme at the US-based Wilson Centre. “I don’t think the visit will have much impact on domestic politics in either country.”

Kite-maker Jagmohan Kanojia poses with kites decorated with the pictures of US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Amritsar. PHOTO: AFP