Will Donald Trump Go Modi's Way And Change His Stand When In Power?

16/05/2016 8:24 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Eugene, Ore., Friday, May 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Donald Trump is now all but the Republican nominee for the elections for the US presidency later this year. There are still several primaries to go in the next two months, but the two remaining contenders have dropped out after Trump's resounding victories in most of the primaries so far. This has sent shock waves through the Republican establishment which hoped that one of the other contenders, Ted Cruz or John Kasich, would be chosen.

Donald Trump's toxic and even hate-filled campaign has drawn huge support from mainly blue collared White supporters who feel that they have been let down by successive governments and that many of their jobs have been taken over by (hard-working and possibly better educated) immigrants. His misogyny, narcissism, and targeting of Muslims and Mexicans have disgusted many Americans but his support base has only strengthened. He even called Senator John McCain, who ran the 2008 election as the Republican nominee against Obama, a "loser". It doesn't matter that John McCain was captured by the Vietnamese and brutally tortured for several years, resulting in him being decorated as a national hero. Not good enough for Trump.

It was expected that Modi would be tough with our neighbour... yet he continued talks with Pakistan.

The seniors of the Republican Party, two former presidents, the leader of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, and the former Republican nominee Mitt Romney are among the several who have openly said that they will not support Trump's candidature. Many senators and congressmen fear that they would not be re-elected. In short the Republican Party faces an existential crisis. But instead of being deterred Trump has promised to fight on and if possible even split the Republican Party.

Donald Trump is a unique character -- a real estate mogul, a reality TV star, and at times unintentional all-round entertainer. His program, The Apprentice, was popular a decade ago even in India, with his catchphrase "You're fired" catching on quite a bit. With no experience in politics and government, he was not taken seriously as a candidate. He was hugely underestimated by his fellow Republicans as well as the Democrats. His campaign "Make America Great Again" caught the imagination of his supporters, and we have seen how that has turned out. And now, he has also promised to run a vicious campaign against Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be a nominee of the Democratic Party.

Most of the US and the international press and leaders have expressed fears about the chaos that might ensue if Trump is elected President. They are worried he will follow through on his outrageous pronouncements. But there's another question: Will Donald Trump change if he's elected President?

[Modi] is continuing the good schemes introduced by the previous government of which he was hugely critical.

The search for this answer warrants a closer look at home, where Narendra Modi won a decisive mandate against a discredited and corrupt Congress party in 2014. Narendra Modi, unlike Trump, came from humble origins and became the general secretary of the BJP. He was made the Chief Minister of Gujarat and very shortly was confronted with a communal riot there, and it is alleged that he did not act swiftly to contain the crisis, resulting in several deaths. While the Supreme Court has not found any evidence of his personal involvement, there are sections of people who still feel that he was in some way responsible for not containing the riots in time. Modi became the most successful Chief Minister of Gujarat and businessmen began to flock to his state to set up industries and make huge investments there. He became the most popular leader of the BJP and did not tolerate corruption.

The Congress party which ruled India for 10 years was mired in corruption and it was openly said that that the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was ineffective since he had to take orders from the Congress president. The middle class, the business community, and many other citizens were keen to vote in a strong leader who would not tolerate corruption.

modi election

Modi could sense the pulse of the people and began his campaign even before his party declared him as a possible Prime Minister candidate. He had a huge circle of admirers and was effective in using social media to his advantage. The senior leaders of the BJP, such as LK Advani, who wanted to lead the party themselves were outnumbered and finally had to give in to make Modi their candidate. Modi campaigned on good governance and an incorruptible government. The middle class welcomed this with enthusiasm and Modi became the Prime Minster with a decisive majority.

Can Donald Trump change in case he becomes President? He gave his first indication when he said that maybe minimum wages must increase.

It was expected that Modi who was highly critical of the Congress party's handling of Pakistan would be tough with our neighbour. He was also critical of the other schemes which the Congress party has introduced like the Aaadhar Card as a means of providing some security to the poorest class, and the MNREGA scheme which he alleged did not provide any relief to the people. However, Modi surprised the people and invited the Pakistani Prime Minister for his inauguration. He also continued talks with Pakistan and most shocking of all, made an impromptu visit to Lahore to greet the Pakistan Prime Minister on Christmas Day last year. The magnitude of this step is evident when you compare it to the Congress, which did not even allow Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan for 10 years (where incidentally he was born), to avoid criticism. After the attack by Pakistani terrorists at Pathankot just a week after his visit to Pakistan it was expected that India would retaliate. However Modi decided to be mature and even allowed a team from Pakistan to the air base to collect evidence.

Modi has also strengthened both the Aadhaar scheme by making it a law and encouraged the MNREGA programme - he is continuing the good schemes introduced by the previous government of which he was hugely critical. While the middle class is now disillusioned since there has been no real progress he still continues to be the most popular leader.

It is probably too early to conclude about Trump based on his vicious campaign alone.

Which brings us to the main discussion - can Donald Trump change in case he becomes President? He gave his first indication when he said that maybe minimum wages must increase. The Republican Party has so far been against any wage increase, so this opinion comes as a surprise. He has consistently maintained that the Israel-Palestine conflict must be solved through negotiations. He also has said that he would negotiate most of the agreements that were entered into in international relations. Trump has been a successful businessman and prides himself on being a great negotiator. It's probable that he would continue the existing policies of the US since he'd have to deal with both the Senate and the US Congress, drawing a parallel to Modi, who indulged in drama during the election season and began to act responsibly after he was elected. Also, Donald Trump would be more amenable than any other Republican and possibly could emerge as a successful President.

He also has no fixed ideology and believes in negotiations to sort out issues. It is being cited that he has no experience in government and would be clueless to take on this most important position in the world. But let us not forget that George W Bush who had prior experience in government and who won two terms in the years 2000 and 2004 is today remembered for the disastrous Iraq war and the financial crisis of 2008 which happened under his watch and is extremely unpopular. It is probably too early to conclude about Trump based on his vicious campaign alone.

President Obama said the other day: "This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show." Maybe Trump is listening!

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