By Arun Kumar
WASHINGTON– India’s rise has caught the attention of controversial Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump who thinks the world’s largest democracy is doing great, but nobody is talking about it.
“India is doing great. Nobody talks about it,” the brash real estate mogul, who has ruffled many feathers with his anti-immigration rhetoric, a call to ban all Muslims and accusing several countries, particularly China, of taking advantage of the US, said in an interview with CNN on Monday.
Trump’s first comments about India on the campaign trail came in response to a question about the change in his views expressed in a September 24, 2007 CNN interview when he had talked about America’s decline and the rise of China and India.
He had then said: “Just look at this country (the US). We have gone from this tremendous power that was respected all over the world to somewhat of a laughing stock.
“All of a sudden, people are talking about China and India and other places, even from an economic standpoint. America has come down a long way, a long way. The US has come down a long way, and it’s very, very sad. We’re not respected.”
In his response on Monday to the statement made almost nine years ago, Trump explained: “That was the beginning of China. That was the beginning of India, when India, by the way, India is doing great. Nobody talks about it. And I have big jobs going up in India. But India is doing great.”
However, in a little noticed statement as recently as November 2015, Trump had actually accused India too of “taking advantage of the US”.
“If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States – China in particular, because they’re so good,” he was quoted as saying.
Trump’s statement about India came a day before a new poll found him hitting a new high in the race for the Republican nomination with 41 percent Republican voters nationwide backing him.
Significantly, more than two-thirds of Republicans said he is the candidate most likely to capture their party’s presidential nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.
Trump was also widely seen as the candidate best able to win the November election with 63 percent of Republicans saying so.
The 69-year-old billionaire has been trying for years to capitalise on his brand in India, which according to the latest International Monetary Fund projections has overtaken China to emerge as the fastest growing economy in the world with a 7.5 percent growth rate.
In 2014, he announced the launch of Trump Tower Mumbai, an 800-foot skyscraper with 75 stories to be erected in Mumbai by an Indian developer Lodha Group.
Before that, in August 2012, developer Panchshil Realty announced another luxury residential property with the Trump name, in Pune, a city about 145 km from Mumbai.
The Trump Towers Pune feature two towers with 23 stories each. The project is still under construction.