Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston, Texas is making bold headlines on the front pages today. Mainstream newspapers have featured photographs of PM Modi and President Trump holding hands, addressing a rally of 50,000 people.
Newspapers highlight different aspects of the Howdy, Modi! event. The Indian Express headlines “Modi Trumps Houston,” while The Hindu says “Modi, Trump set new course on terrorism, border security,” Hindustan Times states “Modi shares dream of vibrant future with India’s best friend” and The Times of India reports “In Trump’s presence, Modi attacks Pak for terror export”.
TOI underlines Modi’s “full frontal attack in front of” President Trump “on Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism in India and across the world, saying the time has come for a decisive battle against terrorism”. It notes that “although Trump did not utter the K-word or make his pro-forma offer to mediate on the matter, he made it obvious that the US stood by India”.
The Hindu focuses on Modi’s “fierce defence of the government’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir”. PM Modi says that “those criticising the decision to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution were promoting terrorism,” the paper writes. It observes that “both leaders announced a joint front on several key issues, but articulated an entirely new script on cooperation on terrorism”. It says, “in a show of support,” Modi and Trump “held hands and walked out of the stadium together, meeting cheering crowds gathered to see the unprecedented joint rally by the two leaders”.
HT pays close attention to Modi’s claim of being ‘best friends’ with the US. It quotes Trump: “India has never had a better friend in a US President than me… Under PM Modi, the world is witnessing a strong, thriving and sovereign India. I look forward to working with PM Modi to make our nations more prosperous than ever before”.
For Express, Modi on Article 370 makes for the key highlight. “Addressing a 50,000-strong gathering at the Howdy Modi event in Houston”, the PM said that after 70 years, “one thing has been bid farewell to, ‘aap samajh gaye na?’ (you have understood, haven’t you?) he said, to a loud cheer from the crowd”. Then he made it clear that “this issue is of Article 370”.
Sitharaman on low tax rates
Also making news today is Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement that the “government’s decision to tax new manufacturing units set up after 1 October at 15 per cent would put India at the top of the pecking order among its Asian peers,” says Express. On the other hand, HT places emphasis on a different aspect of her statement – that the tax rates have “turned India into an attractive investment destination for firms that want to relocate supply chains from China, including Apple and its component manufacturers”.
TOI is concerned with another part of her address – ”the Centre will not resort to any expenditure cut in the wake of the massive Rs 1.45 lakh crore corporate tax relief that was unveiled last week”.
Amit Shah’s rally
Ahead of the assembly elections in Maharashtra, Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech at a rally in Mumbai also makes it to the front pages. Shah said that the “move to revoke special status” of J&K “was a nationalist decision taken by” the Modi-led government, “even as he appeared to pitch the issue as a referendum for the party’s popularity in the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections,” writes HT.
Hindu outlines Shah’s statement that “the people of Maharashtra now need to make a decision. Will they choose a nationalistic party that takes pride in serving them or a party that just serves a family”. This news doesn’t find a mention in TOI and Express.
Express and TOI reports on their front pages that one man was killed and two others injured in Jharkhand after they were assaulted by a mob that accused them of slaughtering a cow.
TOI’s second lead highlights that “senior scientists” at ISRO “have challenged” Sivan’s claim about Chandrayaan-2 being 98 per cent successful.
Hindu brings to light that the future of a “sprawling IT hub at Rangreth, Budgam district, Srinagar,” is in “jeopardy over the prolonged internet shutdown”.
HT: In ‘Two parties, two stories’ the newspaper contrasts electoral strategies of the BJP and the Congress in the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana. HT writes that the two polls are a “study in contrast about the functioning of India’s two national parties.” Even before the poll dates were announced, BJP had “narrowed down on the target for each state”. Discussions in the BJP were not “about whether they could win”, but the “extent of the victory”. While the Congress “spent the last four months paralysed”. HT calls out the Congress for not being able to “target the BJP” on its “sources of vulnerability like the economy”. It suggests how the two stories of these two parties show that “Indian democractic competition” is increasingly becoming ‘one-sided’.
Hindu: The newspaper rewinds BJP and Congress’ ‘political moves’ in Maharashtra and Haryana, ahead of the assembly elections. In Haryana, BJP assembled a “non-Jat social coalition” by appointing the non-Jat CM Manohar Khattar. In Maharashtra too, BJP appointed a non-Maratha CM, Devendra Fadnavis. Hindu writes that BJP’s advantage is the “disarray in opposition ranks”. For instance, Congress in Maharashtra has become “a bastion of dynastic politics and vested interests.” Meanwhile, in Haryana Congress’s ‘messaging’ has been “uninspiring for its crucial social base of disadvantaged groups”. Hindu proposes that the two ‘industrialised states’ must be at the “center of any effort to infuse fresh momentum” in the country’s “sagging economy”. Also, suggesting that a “sharp focus on governance and economy at the state level” in the upcoming campaigns will be “helpful not only for Maharashtra and Haryana but for the entire country too”.
Prime time debate took a backseat Sunday night as Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Houston and attended a joint rally with US President Donald Trump at the NRG stadium. All news channels broadcast live from the venue with correspondents flown out to cover the occasion — India Today had two, Zee News boasted of three reporters at the stadium. CNN News 18 had Editor Bhupendra Chaubey there, while India Today had sent Gaurav Sawant.
India Today called it “When Trump-Modi Tango”, Republic “Modi Power Push”, Times Now “#ModiTrumpDosti, It’s Modi Mania — Pulse is rising’’ and CNN News18 “Modi josh’’. All channels welcomed the PM with a “Howdy, Modi!”.
Since the event was taking place in Texas, channels could not resist a little fun: NDTV 24×7 carried a visual of the PM in a stetson hat and dark glasses – “Largest gathering for a foreign leader” read its subheading.
India Today visualised both leaders in stetson hats. Zee News went even further – it had Modi and Trump seated on horses in cowboy outfits.
WION boasted that the telecast was “being watched across the world’’ while Times Now claimed “India will watch it on Times Now.
The cultural events, which began at 8 pm were carried live on all channels and interspersed with interviews from the ground and analysis in the studios.
All news channels interviewed people who were attending the event: “He (Modi) is the best prime minister we ever had”, said one gentleman (Times Now). Reporters marveled at the enthusiasm of the 50,000-strong crowd that chanted, “Modi, Modi” or “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
“He is a phenomenon of the century’’ (Dr Vivek Gupta on News X).
On Aaj Tak, Gaurav Sawant applauded the utsah of the crowds, while the other reporter Nishant Chaturvedi was impressed by their discipline – “ek dam shant“.
For Republic, Niranjan explained that the stadium was bursting with “excitement”. He also gave details of the security at the stadium and proudly displayed his ‘badge’ that allowed him access inside.
Hindi news channels were in their element with rhyming headlines which attacked Pakistan, and anchors shouted at the top of their voices.
India TV had the headline “Modi ka grand welcome, Imran ki grand beizzati” (Grand welcome of PM Modi, grand dishonor of Imran Khan), Zee News declared Modi as “global leader’’. The most interesting headlines were provided by India News – “America mein Modi ki jai, Pak mein solid bhay” (Modi’s victory in Pakistan, great fear amidst Pakistan), “Trump Modi ki jodi- Imran ki kamar todi (Trump and Modi’s union broke Imran Khan’s back).
Channels also spoke to former Indian diplomats in their Delhi studios. On CNN News 18, Ambassador Rajiv Dogra said, “Some of the reactions coming from the audience are that they are doing this for their Matrabhumi and Karmabhumi. Matrabhumi is India and Karmabhumi is US. Now, that distinction has been merged in a very nice way.”
This ‘matrabhoomi, karmabhoomi’ metaphor was invoked by many voices on ground in Houston.
By the time the Prime Minister Modi and US President Trump walked in at about 10.40 pm, the anchors and reporters were quite exhausted and most channels simply relayed the musical performances on the ground. Then it was over to the two leaders.