Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi
Four days and counting – in one the world’s largest democracies, the United States– it is a fascinating race for Presidency that seems more likely to have a winner soon. In all probability, given the way in which Democrat candidate Joe Biden has come from behind, and is crawling ahead of President Donald Trump in three key battleground States.
What Biden effectively has done is to block the pathway of Trump to retain the Presidency, unless he wins all the five battleground States where counting for votes polled is still being carried out on Friday.
The process is not without its drama and action.
Anticipating the mood of the electorate, wherein Biden supporters predominantly voted through postal ballots due to the fear of ongoing Covid pandemic, Trump realized that he had to put roadblocks in the counting of votes that were expected to go the Biden way. For, Trump supporters dominated the polling booths on Tuesday, which showed in the voting trend.
Trump ran up huge leads in key battleground States of Pennsylvania of over 6 lakh votes but on Friday evening as counting continued, the lead got whittled down to less than 20,000 with thousands of votes yet to be counted. Similarly, in another key battleground State of Georgia, which has 16 Electoral Votes, Trump had amassed a humongous lead only to see Biden overtaking him for a slender lead of 917 seats.
In other battleground States, Biden was leading and is expected to maintain as the counting process moves on at a snail’s pace. Slow, steady, and sure seems to be the motto of the election machinery in the USA that is taking its own time to count, check, recheck before releasing the numbers.
This delay is what Trump tried to use and discredit the voting and counting of votes by launching into a litany of complaints and threats to take the matter to the Courts. His own party leaders dumped his charges and dismissed them without any substance.
President Trump had in fact claimed to have won the elections and demanded that the counting of votes be stopped. His charges of voter fraud had no takers, within his party or the electoral officers and the media.
In fact, major television channels stopped beaming Trump’s press conference at the White House after he was allegedly lying and stating untruths. Even social media platform Twitter called out Trump’s tweets as misleading.
A functioning and free press were much in evidence as journalists and television anchors pushed back Trump whenever he sought to push through untruths and were severe in questioning. One thing Trump was truthful about was that he got an aggressive press to handle, perhaps also for the reason that he was also regularly in the habit of attacking the press. He very often would dismiss media outfits, news reports as fake news and believed that the entire media was out to get him and was unfair to him.
On his part, Trump continued to allege that the Democrats were stealing the election away from him, an election that he had already won. He sought to undermine the confidence of the election and made several unsubstantiated charges about the integrity of the counting process and results.
When Trump came across as a boorish, and bad loser, Biden presented a picture of dignity, calm, and composure when he came out with a small statement that tried to assuage the sentiments of the Americans and promised to be the President of all Americans.
Many would agree that things would be very different, may be not as lively, when Trump is no longer the President.
As things stand at the time of writing, counting of votes is being held in Pennsylvania (EV 20), North Carolina (EV 15) Georgia (EV 16), Nevada (EV 6), Alaska (EV 3). At the last country, Biden had totted up 253 electoral votes and Trump was stuck at 213 electoral votes. The magic number for becoming the President is 270 electoral votes.
Chances are that Biden could be the next President as he is leading Nevada and Georgia and if he continues to hold then he wins. The chances of President Trump are getting slimmer and slimmer with each passing hour.
When India wakes up, Biden may well be on the cusp of becoming the new American President, something that the Indian establishment has gotten ready to deal with. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal rapport with Trump is very good and the two got off to a great start that rubbed on the growing business, defence and trade ties between the two Nations.
In the new White House, there will be a Vice President Kamala Harris, whose mother is of Indian descent.
For India, there will be continuity in the good relations that both countries enjoyed as Biden is a known entity, and as a deputy to President Barrack Obama understands India.
The threat China poses to the world and the challenge it poses to the US will for sure enable the continuance of India-US defence and counter-terror cooperation and may even develop further. Successive Governments in US have seen India as a force in the Asia Pacific region that can counter China. Foreign policy experts do not see any change in the US’s India policy followed for the past two decades.
If not anything, ties under a Biden administration could be much smoother and stable, as Biden is a long-time politician and has tonnes of experience as the Vice President under President Barrack Obama.
For the Indian people and people of Indian origin (NRIs) in the US, a Biden administration could be the answer for their prayers as he is expected to have a stable visa policy. Many tech firms, Indian and American would heave a sigh of relief if the visa issues are sorted out, rather than subjected to suspenseful stress that gripped the system now and then.
Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi is a senior journalist tracking social, economic, and political changes across the country. He was associated with the Press Trust of India, The Hindu, Sunday Observer and Hindustan Times. He can be reached on [email protected]
and Twitter handle @kvlakshman