The success in recent state elections in India has bolstered the global profile of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with many world leaders, including US President Donald Trump congratulating the 66-year-old Indian leader. Mr Trump called up Mr Modi on March 27 and congratulated him on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s success in recent state elections, including the landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, the Indian state whose population surpasses that of the combined population of Britain, France and Germany.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer briefed the media in Washington from a read-out on the phone call Mr Trump made to Mr Modi on March 27. This was the third telephonic contact between the two leaders – the first two being soon after Trump’s US presidential poll victory in November last year and the second after his formal swearing-in in January this year.
Mr Spicer did not disclose if any other substantive issue was discussed by the two leaders and said that he would return with a detailed read-out.
Underlining India’s keenness to sustain the momentum in ties with the US built up during the presidency of George Bush and Barack Obama, India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval made back-to-back visits to Washington.
Helmed by Mr Modi, the BJP stormed to power in Uttar Pradesh earlier this month, winning 312 of the state’s 403 legislative assembly seats. The party also swept the neighbouring Uttarakhand state and managed to form governments in Goa and Manipur states even after finishing behind the Congress party in overall seat tally.
The elections in the five states had turned into a virtual referendum on Mr Modi’s popularity following his controversial decision to demonetise Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes in a bid to flush out black money from India’s financial system, largely run on cash.
Mr Trump and Mr Modi had last spoken to each other in January when they discussed the security situation in South and Central Asia. India and the United States will “stand shoulder to shoulder” to fight global terrorism, the White House had said after that interaction.
Signifying his commitment to sustain momentum in India-US relations, President Trump had called Prime Minister Modi even before he spoke with the leaders of many of US’ key allies. During one of the previous telephonic conversations, both the leaders invited each other to their respective countries and indicated their desire to expand counter-terror cooperation and intensify economic cooperation.
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