Modi didn't endorse Trump, India non-partisan to US politics: Jaishankar

Washington: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, walks out with Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, left, at the US State Department in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. AP/PTI

Asserting that India has a non-partisan approach to domestic American politics, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 'Howdy, Modi' rally was merely referring to the phrase 'Abki Baar Trump Sarkaar' used by the US President's supporters during his 2016 campaign.

"No, he did not say that," the minister said on Monday when asked during a news conference with Indian journalists that Modi in his Houston address used the phrase 'Again Trump Sarkaar.'

Currently on a three-day trip to Washington DC, Jaishankar strongly refuted the notion that the prime minister used the phrase to endorse Trump's candidature for his 2020 re-election campaign.

"I think, please, look very carefully at what the prime minister said. My recollection of what the prime minister said was that candidate Trump had used this ('Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkaar'). So PM is talking about the past. I don't think we should, honestly, misinterpret what was said. I don't think you're doing a good service to anybody, he said in response to the question.

Addressing a crowd of over 50,000 Indian-Americans in Houston on September 22, Modi said that we in India have connected well with Trump.

"The words of candidate Trump, 'Abki baar Trump sarkar', rang loud and clear. And his celebration of Diwali in the House -- White House -- lit up millions of faces with joy and appreciation," Modi had said amidst thunderous applause from the audience.

Soon thereafter the opposition Congress party accused Prime Minister Modi of endorsing Trump's candidature, a charge denied by the ruling BJP.

"I mean, he (Modi) was pretty clear what he was talking about. He was saying, 'this is what you said as a candidate, which showed that you were trying to, (connect with India and its people even as a candidate)'," Jaishankar said.

"We have a very nonpartisan (approach to domestics US politics). So, our sort of approach to whatever happens in this country is their politics, not our politics," he added.

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