Trump calls Modi, congratulates him on BJP’s Assembly election victory

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The BJP returned to power in the politically-crucial state of Uttar Pradesh after a gap of 15 years.

 

Washington: US President Donald Trump today called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and congratulated him on his recent electoral success, the White House said.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump congratulated Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on their electoral victories.

The White House said the leaders spoke by phone. “The president spoke with German Chancellor Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Modi earlier today to congratulate them on their parties’ success in recent elections,” Spicer said.

Following the elections held in five states that begun on February 4 and ended on March 9 after polling was rescheduled in some constituencies, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party formed the government in four states: Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

It, however, lost Punjab to main rival Congress in the results announced on March 11.

Anchored mainly by Modi and his aide Amit Shah, the BJP juggernaut rolled on in Uttar Pradesh and in the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand, bagging three-fourth majority.

The BJP returned to power in the politically-crucial state of UP after a gap of 15 years during which regional parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party held sway.

Goa and Manipur had hung assemblies after the polls, but the BJP managed to form the government with support from other regional parties.

The elections in the five states had turned into a virtual referendum on Modi’s popularity following his much-debated decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

Previously, Modi and Trump talked by phone on January 24, when they had resolved to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” in the global fight against terrorism and for defence and security.

According to a White House statement then, Trump had “emphasised that the US considers India a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world.”

The two leaders had exchanged invitations for visits. “President Trump looked forward to hosting Prime Minister Modi in the US later this year,” the statement had said.

Prime Minister Modi was the fifth foreign leader Trump had spoken to on phone after he was sworn-in as the US president on January 20. He had by then spoken to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

After his surprise victory in the November 8 elections in the US, Modi was among the first world leaders to congratulate Trump. And during the gruelling election campaign, India and Israel were the two prominent countries Trump spoke of strengthening ties if he were to become the president.

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