“In the run-up to next year’s national election, it’s also a nakedly partisan act by conference organisers who claim to be non-partisan,” he added.
Dhume was scheduled to participate in a panel discussion. Modi was to address the conference through a video link, till the invitation was withdrawn by the organisers.
Dhume, a former journalist who is now with right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, becomes the third speaker opting out of the Wharton conference.
Dhume wrote he is not a supporter of the Gujarat chief minister and has argued that the 2002 riots that happened on his watch disqualify him from leading a pluralistic nation like India. Modi remains a divisive in the US, as at home in India.
The US won’t give him a visa — since 2006 — despite concerted lobbying by his friends and supporters here. And the Congress has passed many resolutions condemning him.
US businesses, however, have actively engaged with Modi’s government and its representatives aggressively pitched for opportunities at the last Vibrant Gujarat conference.
But the US policy on Modi won’t change till, officials have said, he is completely cleared by Indian courts. However, no court has found him guilty of involvement in the riots yet.