Trust Trump’s track record on truth to keep Modi in good stead

The Nation Wants To Know and rightly so.

Whether Narendar Damordas Modi requested Donald J Trump to ‘mediate’ on the K Word viz. Kashmir. The opposition is up in arms. The Minister for External Affairs Mr. S. Jayashankar has denied it. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has joined in to refute it. Trump’s claim has surfaced during the recent visit of Imran Khan the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Washington. Pakistan is gleefully watching the discomfiture of the Modi administration.

Is there a likelihood of truth in what POTUS has stated? For that, we should not test the veracity of statements of Narendra Modi. But that of the pronouncements of Donald J Trump. But why? Is it not sacrilegious and blasphemous to even examine the ‘truth’ of Trump’s statement. He is the leader of the free world. US of A is the most powerful nation in the world. And he has publicly said so. To the hearing of the Media .Then, where is the doubt that he said what he meant and he said what he must have heard Modi say.

There is therefore reason to conclude that Narendra Modi may have, in one of his weaker moments, while claiming to be the 56 inch leader he was, requested Trump to offer his services to mediate on the Kashmir issue. But was he so naive? Can one easily and plainly accept Trump’s claim? What is Trump’s track record as President of America since Jan, 20, 2017, inauguration day? Or his track record as self proclaimed billionaire real estate mogul, headquartered in aptly named Trump Towers in New York?

Truth to tell, New York Times is a revered institution the world over. NYT began its innings in 1851 and ‘running and running stronger now thanks to the chaotic Presidency of Donald J. Trump’, as its famous author and correspondent Thomas Friedman puts it. #NYT may have campaigned against Trump, editorially at that. But their journalistic standing is impeccable. NYT’s pedigree is reflected in the 127 Pulitzer Prizes (tallest in the field of journalism), highest among all comers.

It is but very rarely NYT has used the expression ‘lie’ openly. It has always been ‘stretched the truth’, ‘verbal inexactitude’, ‘tested the limits of veracity,’ and so on. For the editors strongly believed that ‘Lie did not belong to the American political lexicon at the highest levels’. Political editor Carolyn Ryan expounded on when that word gets clearance for use. Her definition of a lie is “when there’s a deliberate attempt to deceive— when someone knowingly fails to tell the truth.” NYT thought “that no matter the divisive debates between the Democrats and the Republicans, they had little use for this one expression ‘lie’, until Donald J Trump happened”.

One does not need to go searching for Trump’s lies. Wikipedia carries a Chapter – Veracity of Statements by Donald Trump – Donald Trump has made many false or misleading statements, including thousands during his presidency. Commentators and fact-checkers have described the rate of his falsehoods as unprecedented in politics, and they have become a distinctive part of both his business and political identity. He has a pattern of making controversial statements and then denies having done so. By June 2019 many news organizations had started describing some of Trump’s falsehoods as lies.

New York Times has a team devoted to Factchecking and identifying the ‘lies of Donald Trump’ and at last count it is over 5217 during his Presidency. It is said that “if his lies as Trump realtor were counted, he would trump everyone else and breast the tape all alone for Wisden’s World records’ prize’. Who does not know the birther lie he unleashed from nowhere that Barack Obama was not born in the US, in 2011. Until, in 2018, he quietly one day, as President, claimed that ‘he may not be right after all’.

As Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post says, “It would be a wasteful and futile exercise to record the number of lies this man has uttered as President. Instead, it may be wise to record his truthful statement: that would be easy.” So, let’s get real with the Trump alluding to ‘request’ of Narendra Modi to him to ‘mediate’ on Kashmir. It is unreal and does nothing more than adding to the NYT list of lies.

BJP is ‘nationalist’. That is the accusation and charge. They are ‘too strong and unyielding’ on Kashmir for it is ‘part of their agenda to repeal Art.370 and 35-A giving special status to Kashmir. No one disputes this premise. Add the BJP/Modi/Shah combine’s resolve to arm the armed forces to teeth in the battle to trump the terrorists. And then the response to Pulwama via Balakot which the Lutyens and Khan Market Log suggested was the tipping point, when it mattered for Modi’s triumphant return. It has been BJP’s recorded stand that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who goofed up on Kashmir and needlessly ‘internationalised it to UN’ and it took some doing for India to let it become bilateral.

In this backdrop, Modi can least be expected to seek mediation. And that too from Trump with his proclivities and shenanigan a day routine. On the other hand, it is obvious that the Trump’s so called claim deserves to be called by its true name, keeping in with his pedigree and character of the indelible genre.

Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court

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