NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian fringe group on Friday celebrated the "victory" of U.S. presidential contender Donald Trump, hailing his friendship with diaspora Indians and backing his call to ban immigration by Muslims from countries hit by Islamic militancy.
With drums banging and speakers blaring, the Hindu Sena, or Hindu Army, gathered at Jantar Mantar - New Delhi's answer to London's Speakers' Corner - to proclaim to a knot of TV crews that Trump had "already won" the Nov. 8 vote.
"Trump's victory is confirmed early, due to his thoughts against Islamic terrorism and love for India and Hindus," said Vishnu Gupta, the Hindu Sena's self-styled national president.
Trump uttered the memorable phrase "I love Hindu" at a cultural event in New Jersey last month organized by supporters of his candidacy from the Indian diaspora.
That sentiment has not played so well with many diaspora Indians who are secular or belong to other faiths and, as a group, lean more toward supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton.
But as far as the Hindu Sena is concerned, the feeling is mutual.
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Its celebration at a roadside stall featured posters bearing the slogans, "India Loves Trump" and "Trump Our Only Hope". One supporter held up a portrait of Trump with a tilak, or religious mark, on his forehead and held a sweet to his mouth.
India has not officially endorsed either Trump or Democratic contender Hillary Clinton but has seen a warming in bilateral ties between outgoing President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)