Tuesday, March 28, 2017
NEW DELHI: India, despite considerable diplomatic effort, seems to have been unable to get a formal invitation to attend the inauguration of President elect Donald Trump on January 20 but the foremost campaigner for the Republican Hindu Coalition Shalabh Kumar is now a virtual insider if his own propaganda can be believed.
There is no word of an invitation to the Indian top brass, with just a small report carried by a couple of media outlets earlier this year that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval might attend some of the functions associated with the inauguration, and clearly not the main ceremony. Sources said that while some invitations have been sent directly to world leaders, New Delhi was clearly not in the favoured list. Solace probably comes from the fact that Pakistan also did not make the cut, although reports in the local Pakistani newspapers suggest that former President Asif Ali Zardari is en route to Washington where he is “expected” to attend the inauguration. Again reports without real details.
Shalabh Kumar, however, who was amongst the top funders for the Trump campaign, and is seen by power circles in Delhi as a Prime Minister Narendra Modi acolyte, has risen dramatically. Founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition he now claims a major part in securing this vote for Trump, with the slogan that his site insists has broken all records, “Ab ki baar Trump ki sarkar.” A video endorsing the relationship between Hindus and the new US Administration has Trump mouthing the slogan as he promises a great relationship with Hindus, and adds, India.
Kumar has made it, jumping for a fairly obscure business background into the American limelight. He is currently a member of “transition finance and inauguration committees that recommend who should be hired by President elect Donald Trump. His site has grown enormously since the start of the campaign carrying photographs of Kumar with the who’s who in the power structure of India, and the emerging power structure of the US. As he proudly declares he has succeeded in “putting the Hindu-American community in the forefront for the first time ever.”
The RHC, modeled as itself says after the “highly successful” Republican Jewish Coalition has invited persons to attend various ceremonies associated with the Presidential inauguration. However, Shalabh Kumar despite effort no doubt, has been unable to swing an invitation for a political representation from India for the inaugural ceremony, cutting into the ‘special relations’ propaganda.
In fact the Trump inauguration is turning out to be a most divisive affair within the US. And while former Presidents, including the Clintons, have confirmed their attendance most others are divided. There is a long list of artists and actors who have refused to attend, including Elton John and Bruce Springsteen who has in fact, been castigating in his choice of words against the new President. “Flagrant, toxic narcissist” were words he used. Some backed off following a backlash from their fans, such as Broadway star Jennifer Holliday who pulled out after initially accepting the invitation with a public apology for her “lapse.”
World leaders who have been invited are not all sure of participation, with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for instance preferring to ‘re-engage with Canadians a home. Latest reports suggest that an invite has been extended, later than expected, to Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu although the Israeli media has carried conflicting reports of the same. A section of the media continues to maintain that he has not been invited although specific members of the Likud party have, and will be attending the inauguration.