Democratic process can’t be subverted by unlawful protests: PM


AS SOUTH Block watched the unprecedented scenes of chaos in Washington DC, with pro-Trump supporters storming the US Capitol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday joined a chorus of world leaders in expressing concern over the turn of events and said that “orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue”.

“Distressed to see news about rioting and violence in Washington DC. Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests,” Modi posted on Twitter.

These remarks come amid growing disquiet in New Delhi over the manner in which Trump responded to his electoral defeat and his refusal to concede the elections. Sources said there was considerable concern at the highest levels in the Government over the “instability” and “unpredictability” in the US since the November elections.

Besides, President-elect Joe Biden is a known commodity for India’s America hands — External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Indian ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu have dealt with him in his previous roles.

On November 17, as soon as it became clear that Trump was losing the elections, Modi was among the world leaders to congratulate Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory.

“Spoke to US President-elect @JoeBiden on phone to congratulate him. We reiterated our firm commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed our shared priorities and concerns – Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region,” Modi had posted on Twitter.

“I also conveyed warm congratulations for VP-elect @KamalaHarris. Her success is a matter of great pride and inspiration for members of the vibrant Indian-American community, who are a tremendous source of strength for Indo-US relations,” he had posted.

Until then, India had engaged proactively with the Trump administration over the past four years — Trump was the key guest at two public events, in Houston in September 2019 and in Ahmedabad in February 2020.

At the Howdy Modi event in Houston, the Prime Minister, who has referred to Trump as a “true friend of India”, had famously remarked: “Abhi Baar Trump Sarkar”.

Trump, too, has been supportive of India, including on Pakistan-backed cross-border terror after the Pulwama attack and the Balakot air strikes. He also refrained from commenting on India’s moves in Kashmir, including the revocation of Article 370, and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

But with the incoming Democratic administration all set to take charge later this month, Thursday’s statement reflected New Delhi’s recalibration even as major US allies like the UK, France, Germany, Australia, EU condemned the Capitol violence.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, who was among the first to react, said: “Shocking scenes in Washington, D.C. The outcome of this democratic election must be respected.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the storming of the Congress as “disgraceful”. “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” he said.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron stood in front of the French and US flags to state that what happened in Washington DC was “not America”. He also expressed belief in the “strength of American democracy”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the violence “should never succeed in overruling the will of the people”. He said: “Democracy in the US must be upheld — and it will be”.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Trump and his supporters “should finally accept the decision of the American voters and stop trampling democracy”.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, another close ally of the US, condemned the “acts of violence and looked forward to a peaceful transfer of government to the newly elected administration in the great American democratic tradition”.

European Union president Ursula von der Leyen said peaceful transition of power was at the core of democracy. “Joe Biden won the election. I look forward to working with him as the next President of the USA,” she tweeted. The head of EU’s foreign affairs, Josep F Borrell, described the violence as “an unseen assault on US democracy, its institutions and the rule of law”.

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