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Trump And Modi Tout Achievements Onstage In Houston


Tens of thousands of people packed into an NFL stadium in Houston yesterday. President Trump was there. But on this occasion, he was not the main attraction. It was the prime minister of India. Here's Florian Martin of Houston Public Media.

FLORIAN MARTIN, BYLINE: Organizers said 50,000 people registered for the event. Cars lined up around several blocks hours before the Sunday morning start.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in foreign language).

F MARTIN: It was a festive mood with a Hare Krishna band playing outside and people waving Indian and American flags. The event started with a cultural program with Indian music and dances. Several elected officials made an appearance, including Senator John Cornyn, who highlighted the strong economic relationship between Texas and India, as well as cultural ties. Finally, Prime Minister Modi entered the stage to dramatic music almost like at a boxing match.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome his excellency, the honorable prime minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.

F MARTIN: Modi eventually took the microphone to introduce President Trump.

PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI: I present to you my friend, a friend of India, a great American president, Mr. Donald Trump.

F MARTIN: Trump reciprocated, praising the prime minister and his policies.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: With the help of Prime Minister Modi's pro-growth reforms, India has lifted nearly 300 million people out of poverty.

F MARTIN: Both leaders spoke about what they consider their own achievements. Trump touted the strong U.S. economy and his immigration policies. Some of the people who came to watch, like Kumud Patel (ph), said what she likes about Modi is that he's changing things.

KUMUD PATEL: He's more into action rather than just talking. 'Cause I've seen it. In past 10 years, things have come up a lot.

F MARTIN: Outside, hundreds protested against Modi. In particular, many criticized his policies regarding majority-Muslim Jammu and Kashmir. Last month, Modi stripped its autonomy. Suzan Adjani (ph) says Modi discriminates against non-Hindu people.

SUZAN ADJANI: He is a divisive person. He is sowing the seeds of hatred.

F MARTIN: She admits that her opinion is in the minority. She says that's because Indians tend to support causes based on their religion. Nearly 80% of Indians are Hindu. For NPR News, I'm Florian Martin in Houston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Florian Martin