Donald Trump’s new campaign commercial, seeking support from Indian-American voters, has attracted attention mainly for the comical way the candidate stumbles through the Hindi phrase, “Abki Baar Trump Sarkar,” or, “This Time, a Trump Government,” a slogan adopted from the one used by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In that speech, Trump made common cause with the conservative Hindus over the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism.” He also heaped praise on Modi, a Hindu nationalist who was, until recently, barred from the United States for failing to stop Hindu mobs from killing more than 1,000 Muslims in communal violence in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002.
Trump’s address to the gathering was preceded by a live, Bollywood-style song and dance number in which Muslim terrorists, wielding light sabers, took the dancers hostage, before being overwhelmed by U.S. special forces.
The same event featured heavy-handed propaganda against Hillary Clinton, who was blamed for pursuing an anti-Modi agenda as secretary of state.
As my colleague Lee Fang reported, in addition to sharing an obsessive hatred of Muslims, Trump has business ties to Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, “having signed a licensing deal in 2014 to construct the Trump Tower Mumbai with Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a real estate mogul and BJP state legislator.”
Earlier in the campaign, Trump’s candidacy was also endorsed by a small group of anti-Muslim extremists in India, the Hindu Sena, who held a prayer ritual for him. “Trump has said Muslims should be banned from entering America,” the Hindu Sena leader Vishnu Gupta said. “Everyone should support that.”
“Trump is about to become the king of the world,” Gupta added. “How will we attack Pakistan without his support?”
But while Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has won him such visible support from Hindu nationalists, it is worth keeping in mind that polling suggests he is widely disliked by most Indian-Americans.
During the primary campaigns this year, one survey found that 62% of Indian-Americans viewed Trump unfavorably, while 65% had positive views of the Democratic Party.
Asked by researchers if they would vote for a candidate for office they otherwise agreed with if that person “expressed strong anti-Muslim views,” 59% of Indian-Americans said they would choose another candidate.
A recent national poll of Asian-Americans, directed by Karthick Ramakrishnan of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy, found that Trump was viewed unfavorably by 79% of Indian-Americans, while Clinton was viewed favorably by 70% of the community.
Among registered Indian-Americans voters in the same poll, Clinton enjoyed a massive lead over Trump: 70% to 7%.