WASHINGTON: Cutting across party lines, top American lawmakers have pledged to strengthen Indo-US strategic ties and take them to a new level as they believe mutual misgivings have given way to benefits in economic and security spheres.
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the joint sitting of the US Congress on Wednesday, he has struck a personal rapport with the lawmakers, engaging with them directly on social media.
Lawmakers have spoken both on the floors of the US House of Representatives and the Senate as well as outside about working towards strengthening bilateral relations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said mutual misgivings had given way to mutual benefits in both the economic and security spheres.
"We are now key trading partners. We are the two largest democracies in the world. Our relationship is an important one, and there are more benefits that can be shared from future cooperation," he said.
"One of his messages, besides what a great democracy America is and what a great democracy India is, is that we have to think about the future. And we can tap the American ingenuity and what we have already done to clean air and grow business at the same time," said Congresswoman Kathy Castor.
Senate Minority leader Senator Harry Reid said he told everyone about his warmness for India.
"The second largest Muslim population in the world is in India. So it is a friend that we have, and we must maintain that friendship," he said.
Senator John Corny said Modi's speech reflected how far the two countries have come in such a relatively short period of time.
"When Prime Minister Modi spoke he talked about his vision for his country's future, including deepening and broadening the relationship with the United States. That is a very welcome statement by the Prime Minister," he said.
"Connecting our two nations is also a unique and dynamic bridge of 3 million Indian Americans. Threats of terror are expanding, and new challenges are emerging in cyber and outer space. India is undergoing a profound social and economic change," said Congressman Joe Wilson on the House floor.
He said a commitment to rebuild a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan was "our shared objective."
"In every sector of India's forward march, I see the US as an indispensable partner," he said. Following his address, Modi has struck a personal rapport with American lawmakers, engaging with them directly on social media and sharing thoughts on deepening bilateral ties.
The social media, twitter in particular, continues to be abuzz with not only Modi's speech but also India-US ties, with many posts over the topics being retweeted and liked.
Given Modi's strong following on Twitter, with more than 20.6 lakh followers, the lawmakers are seeking to get into direct communication with the Prime Minister.
"Senator Cornyn, was wonderful meeting you and interacting with you. I share your optimism about strong India-USA ties," Modi tweeted after his return to India.
Two days earlier, Senator Cornyn had posted a 30 second video on his twitter feed and said, "I look forward to working with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strengthen the ties between our two countries."
Cornyn is Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus.
"Narendra Modi did a great job yesterday before Congress. India is world's largest democracy and key US ally," wrote Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota.
Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan and his office posted behind the scenes pictures and tweeted instantly giving minute by minute account of the Prime Minister's movement in the Congress.
"Thanks Speaker Ryan for the kind words and opportunity to address Congress. Was great meeting you earlier today," Modi said on his twitter feed along with a picture with Ryan.
"As the largest democracy in the world, India is a key partner of the United States," said Senator Mark Kirk.
"Representing nearly 200,000 Indian Americans in Illinois, I have witnessed not only the strategic significance of the US-India relationship, but also the unique cultural bond shared between our two great democracies. Prime Minister Modi's speech struck the right balance between expanded security ties and promoting economic opportunities between our countries," Kirk said.
Describing Modi address as message of "strength through unity", Congressman Pete Sessions, Chairman of the House Rules Committee, said under his leadership and his commitment to free marketplace ideals, the relationship between the US and India has flourished.
"Since 2014, the Prime Minister has been a shining example that a real leader can accomplish robust job creation and a prosperous economy behind the strength of a pro-growth agenda," Sessions said.
"As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue to work to deepen and expand our partnership with India in support of our mutual economic and national security interests," said Senator Kelly Ayotte.
"As the partnership between the US and India grows, it will be important to continue to speak candidly with one another when we disagree. I will continue to urge the Indian government to better protect the human rights of its citizens-including the rights of Indian women and girls," Ayotte said. Former Republican presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz said India's status as a rising power will only grow stronger as it continues to pursue political reform and economic liberalisation.
"America welcomes this development, as does Texas, which is home to hundreds of thousands of Indian-Americans and hosts a remarkable range of Indian companies and investors. I look forward to strengthening our strategic economic and security relationships in the years to come," he said.
Congressman Jim Costa said a partnership with India brings more opportunities for greater investment in both countries, beneficial trade relationships and more jobs.
"Additionally, strong India and US relations will undoubtedly boost our defense strategy to combat terrorism in the Middle East and Asia," he added.
"In the US we know very well that powerful and meaningful change does not happen overnight. It is difficult to rally individuals around progressive ideas even though in hindsight the ideas may not have been progressive but simply common sense," he said.
"While I commend Prime Minister Modi for implementing policies to limit discrimination and promote freedom and equality, I believe that there is much more to be done to strengthen human rights and religious freedoms in India. I am confident that the Administration and Congress will continue to monitor India's progress to ensure liberty and freedom for all Indian citizens," Costa said.
"India-USA economic ties and people to people cooperation needs to deepen further," Modi wrote to Congressman Frank Pallone on twitter when the latter used the social media to thank him.
"As Representative of one of America's largest Indian-American constituencies, I'm encouraged by Narendra Modi's call to strengthen bonds between US and India," he said.
"Thank you Senator (Ted) Cruz," Modi said as he retweeted the Texas Senator remarks, "Proud to welcome PM Narendra Modi to Congress today. India lights the way for its neighbours toward a better future.