India has a non-partisan approach to US domestic politics: EAM Jaishankar


New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a press conference (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a press conference (PTI Photo)

Asserting India’s non-partisan stand to domestic American politics, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the term ‘Abki Baar Trump Sarkaar’ in the Houston rally, merely referring to what the US president had used to endear himself to the Indian American community during his presidential campaign.

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.

“No, he did not say that”, the minister said when asked during a news conference with Indian journalists about the implication of the prime minister purportedly using the slogan in his Houston address.

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.

Addressing a mammoth crowd of more than 50,000 Indian Americans in Houston on September 22, PM 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.

Jaishankar arrived on Sunday night from New York after attending the annual General Assembly session of the United Nations along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, the two leaders held bilateral meetings with dozens of world leaders.

Categorically rejecting any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said India’s stand has been clear for decades and the two countries can discuss the issue bilaterally.

“India has been clear for 40 odd years that we would not accept mediation and that whatever has to be discussed has to be discussed bilaterally,” Jaishankar told a group of Indian reporters on Wednesday when asked about US President Donald Trump’s mediation remarks on Kashmir.

Trump in the recent past has offered mediation between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

“I am very clear in my mind. When people speak of it has gone up and down, where has it gone up and down? India has been very clear about it,” he said when asked about the frequent offer of mediation by President Trump.

The External Affairs Minister said in half of his meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, the issue of recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir popped up.

“In terms of (issue of) Article 370, I would find it hard to quantify, but I would say maybe in about half my meetings it came up and maybe in half of my meetings it didn’t come up. It wasn’t that every guy who came to me came with that burning question,” he said.

Frankly, most of them were focused on the bilateral relations, he said, adding that even those who raised it, it was not necessarily the first issue of interest to them.

“I think in the case of people who showed interest, it was more like, we have read about developments on Kashmir and it would be useful for us to hear from you,” he said.

Jaishankar said he apprised the leaders about what was happening and why it was happening in Kashmir.

The External Affairs Minister said that in many cases a lot of what he said was new to them.

When specifically asked about the position of two countries – Malaysia and Turkey – on Kashmir, the minister said: “obviously they have been given an understanding which clearly is very different from the facts on the ground”.

Prime Minister Modi and Jaishankar’s meeting came against the backdrop of the Indian government revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories on August 5.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.