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Home > 2021 > US Presidential Elections: Abki Baar Biden Sarkar | K N Ninan

Mainstream, VOL LIX No 3, New Delhi, January 2, 2021

US Presidential Elections: Abki Baar Biden Sarkar | K N Ninan

Saturday 2 January 2021

by K N Ninan

Joseph R. Biden, Jr and Kamala Harris created history by clinching the 2020 US Presidential elections. The electoral college which met on December 14 officially confirmed the election results with Biden getting 306 electoral votes as against 232 for Trump. Many records have been shattered. Joe Biden at 78 years will be the oldest person elected as US President. He is also the second catholic to be elected as US President, the first being John F. Kennedy in November 1960. Like Kennedy, Biden too is of Irish descent. Biden polled over 81 million votes which is the highest ever votes obtained by any US Presidential candidate followed by Donald Trump who polled 74 million votes i.e., 7 million more votes than that polled by Trump. The bitterly fought US election saw a high and unprecedented voter turnout. Despite all the abusive remarks and allegations, and abuse of power and authority by Trump, Biden and Kamala succeeded in defeating the most divisive US President in history.

Kamala Harris shattered a glass ceiling to become the first woman Vice President in US history and that too of Afro-American and Indian descent. Hillary Clinton tried hard to break this glass ceiling but despite a spirited campaign failed to win 270 electoral votes although in popular votes she got 3 million more votes than her republican rival Donald Trump.

World leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi all joined in congratulating President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris on their election. Donald Trump has refused to accept defeat even after the official declaration of the election results, and continues to maintain that if all “legal” votes are counted he has won and further that he had been winning the counting late into election night and then when mail-in votes which he claims are illegal votes started being counting the results surprisingly changed in favour of Biden. He has provided no evidence to support his allegations of election fraud. He has filed several legal suits questioning the election results, but these have been unsuccessful so far. Even the US Supreme Court dismissed a plea to scrap the election results for some swing states which voted for Biden. As a leading American Professor of Law stated the US constitution is supreme and Donald Trump’s legal term of office ends on January 20, 2021, and if he refuses to vacate the White Office on that date he may face humiliation and be ejected by the US Secret Service.

President-elect Biden in his first tweet after been elected has tried to soothe frayed tempers and stated that “the work ahead will be hard, but I promise you that I will be President of all Americans-whether you voted for me or not.” Hope our own rulers who promote divisive agendas, hatred and violence like Trump will draw lessons from this. Like the Kennedys, Biden too had to witness several tragedies in his personal life such as the loss of his first wife and daughter in a car accident and then of his son due to brain cancer. He lost the elections to be President twice before but has been successful a third time.

Indians no doubt are thrilled that a daughter of Indian origin is to become the next US Vice President. Indians are, however, concerned as to how Indo-US relations will be under the Biden administration. As veteran Indian diplomat G. Parthasarathy stated in a recent TV interview this concern is misplaced since support for India has always been bipartisan. All US Presidents right from Harry Truman in the late 1940s right down to Donald Trump have been fully supportive of India and its aspirations. Trump despite all his failings and tantrums supported India especially in our conflicts with China and Pakistan and made strategic agreements. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt who was the only four term US President pleaded with British PM Winston Churchill during World War II to grant independence to India.

The only US President who hated India was Richard Nixon. In fact, Nixon threatened Indira Gandhi in 1971 that he would send the US Seventh Fleet if India were to intervene in the genocide being committed by the Pakistan army in the then East Pakistan. Ms Gandhi ignored these threats, went ahead and signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation in August 1971, and gave the go ahead to the Indian Army under Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw to intervene which led to the splitting of Pakistan and founding of Bangladesh in 1971. Nixon who was aptly nicknamed as ‘Tricky Dicky’ had to resign in humiliation in August 1974 on the verge of his impeachment and removal from office after being involved in the ‘Watergate Scandal’. In Henry Kissinger’s autobiography (US Secretary of State under Richard Nixon) he refers to his conversations with Nixon in the White House who referred to Indira Gandhi as an “old witch” and a “cold blooded practitioner of power politics”. Kissinger had to apologise when these conversations were made public. Trump will also rue the day for his undiplomatic reference to India as “filthy” during his election campaign.

Lest we forget, when US President George Bush Jr. tried to push through the Indo-US Nuclear deal with the UPA government under Manmohan Singh which ended our pariah status, it was Senator Joe Biden who helped navigate bipartisan support for the Indo-US nuclear agreement. Biden steadfastly supported strategic partnership with India and supported India’s quest for reforms in the UN with representation to India in the Security Council. One hopes that Biden will continue and take forward the strategic partnership made by India under his predecessors. Indians also expect that a Biden administration, among others, will be favourable to the Indian IT sector and remove restrictions on H1B visas and the country quota on green cards and re-introduce preferential trade status for India that was discontinued by the Trump administration. Biden has already stated his priorities as, apart from controlling the covid-19 pandemic, to expand affordable heath care, tackle climate change by the US re-entering the Paris Climate agreement and promoting social justice. The Modi government will be concerned about the stand of the Biden administration on human rights issues, abrogation of Article 370, and policy towards Pakistan vis-à-vis India.

(The author is an economist)

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