Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday sarcastically thanked External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for covering up for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “incompetence”. This came hours after Jaishankar dismissed claims that Modi’s “Ab ki baar, Trump sarkar” slogan at the “Howdy, Modi” rally in Houston last week was an endorsement of United States President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

“His [Modi’s] fawning endorsement caused serious problems with the Democrats for India,” the former Congress president tweeted. “I hope it gets ironed out with your intervention. While you’re at it, do teach him a little bit about diplomacy.”

Jaishankar, who is in the United States on an official visit, said Modi had merely referred to what Trump had said during his presidential campaign in an address to the Indian diaspora.

“I think, please, look very carefully at what the prime minister said,” Jaishankar told Indian journalists when questioned about the implication of the prime minister’s slogan. “My recollection of what the prime minister said was that candidate Trump had used this [Ab Ki baar, Trump sarkar]. So PM is talking about the past.” He urged the press not to misinterpret what was said. “I don’t think you’re doing a good service to anybody,” the minister added.

Modi and Trump addressed more than 50,000 Indian-Americans at the event on September 22. “Friends, we in India have connected well with President Trump, the words of candidate Trump. ‘Abki baar Trump sarkaar’ rang loud and clear...,” Modi told the audience, rephrasing his successful election slogan “Abki Baar, Modi Sarkar”.

After the event, the Congress accused Modi of violating India’s policy of not interfering in the domestic elections of another country. Party spokesperson Anand Sharma said Modi was in the US as India’s prime minister and not a star campaigner in the US elections.

On Sunday, the Congress said Modi’s meeting with Trump failed to meet India’s expectations despite the public display of friendship. “There were no tangible outcomes of the visit which would justify the BJP celebration,” Sharma added.

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