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15 Feb, 2020 07:56

Art of the deal? Trump boasts Facebook supremacy over Modi ahead of India visit to ink trade & weapons sales

Art of the deal? Trump boasts Facebook supremacy over Modi ahead of India visit to ink trade & weapons sales

US President Donald Trump has claimed he is more popular than PM Narendra Modi on Facebook, ahead of his upcoming trip to India. A coy political maneuver or standard social media banter from the US leader?

The president announced on Twitter that it was a “great honor” to be “number one” on Facebook – a title allegedly bestowed upon him by the platform’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Stating that Modi was “number two,” Trump added that he was “looking forward” to his upcoming trip to India.

There’s just one small problem: The numbers don’t appear to back up Trump’s claim (and Facebook has previously declined to comment on Trump’s ‘number one’ boasting). The US president currently has around 27.5 million followers on his main Facebook account. An impressive figure, but it doesn’t come close to Modi’s 44.3 million followers.

Trump made the same seemingly erroneous claim last month. Not only did he claim that Zuckerberg had told him he was “number one,” but he also noted that Modi “has 1.5 billion people. I have 350 [million]” – apparently making his dubious first place title even more impressive.

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The boast is even more puzzling considering Trump’s flattering remarks about the Indian prime minister. In September, the two leaders exchanged warm words during a pro-Modi rally held in Texas. Trump told the gathering of 50,000 people that Modi is “one of America’s greatest, most devoted and most loyal friends.”

His peculiar insistence that he is top dog on Facebook could likely be political posturing ahead of his upcoming visit to India.

Scheduled at the end of February, the trip will mark his first official visit to the country – and there’s a lot at stake for Washington. India is in the final stages of clearing a $2.6 billion purchase of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters – and Trump is expected to roll out his fabled salesmanship to seal the deal. New Delhi is also reportedly considering acquiring US drones at a cost of about $2.5 billion.

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The US and India are also working on a trade agreement that could potentially be agreed upon during Trump’s visit. Washington and New Delhi imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s imports, as part of Trump’s aggressive trade policy.

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