New Delhi: Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj has alleged that he wasn’t allowed to enter the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event held in Houston, which was addressed by both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, because the organisers disapproved of comments he had made on his Netflix show, The Patriot Act.
On The Late Night Show With Seth Meyers, Minhaj talked about what happened. “I was like I have to be there. So we submit our press credentials immediately get an email back through saying ‘We’re out of space’. I was like ‘word’. Like I’ve been to Indian weddings, you just walk in. You’re out of space in a football stadium? Nah,” he said.
“So I recheck with the organisers, ‘Hey guys it’s my community, you get it?’ I want to be there. And they’re like ‘We’re out of space but we’ll discuss it’. I’m like, ‘Okay’. And I’m like I’m sorry for making fun of cricket. It’s not a sport for fops, it’s an international game that’s taking over the world. They are like, ‘No, some of the comments you made about Prime Minister Modi were not appreciated and you’ve been blacklisted’.”
Never got a chance to say Howdy Modi.https://t.co/6nQn4Gl8VH
— Hasan Minhaj (@hasanminhaj) September 24, 2019
Even before Minhaj went on Meyers’ show to talk about it, a video went viral on social media in which the comedian is seen speaking to the organisers on the telephone, and them saying there is not enough space.
By not letting him in, Minhaj said, the organisers were in fact “honouring” his comedy. Minhaj also told Meyers that though he was not allowed to enter the venue of the rally, his photo was flashed on the jumbotron (a large television screen) in a montage honouring prominent Indian-Americans.
Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, an episode of The Patriot Act featured Minhaj talking in detail about Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party. He was openly critical of the prime minister, and also poked fun at opposition leaders. As The Wire‘s Sidharth Bhatia wrote then:
“…Minhaj’s politics is hard to miss. And so is his intent. He understands that the desi community in the US, even if not all inclined favourably towards Narendra Modi and the Hindutva groups in general, is not fully informed about the Indian scene. They may keep abreast of the latest news, but their perceptions could be shaped by what they get through not just the mass media (American and Indian), but also social media and the avalanche of posts on family and friends WhatsApp groups.
Minhaj’s attempt is to connect the dots and make sense of all the disparate events that add up to a bigger picture – a fundamental shift in what India has been so far. “Will India remain India or not? Will India defines itself by inclusion or exclusion?” he asks. That disturbs him and he wants it to disturb others who may be otherwise ‘apolitical’ or neutral towards one party or the other.”