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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

'Getting a visa to the US not a priority for Modi now'

Shekhar Iyer , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 25, 2013
First Published: 20:50 IST(25/7/2013) | Last Updated: 08:58 IST(26/7/2013)

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi does not consider obtaining a US visa his top priority though his critics say he desperately wants one for his validation by the West after the 2002 riots in his state.

Sources close to him told HT that neither he had sought a visa nor any application of his was pending before the US authorities.

He also did not have any plan to seek one in the near future and had not asked party chief Rajnath Singh nor anyone to push for his case, they said. As far as Modi was concerned, the row over a letter by 65 MPs to President Barrack Obama to deny him visa to the US was “meaningless.”

"Getting a visa to the US is not a priority for him now," a source close to the CM said, adding that "Modi is not the kind who will die for it." Rather, Modi's energies were now focused on the BJP's election campaign for the 2014 polls as the head of the party's panel for the purpose.

"Modi, as his style is known, would rather wait for the time when the Americans realise they must have him there. He won't go chasing for a visa. That is not his way," said another source.

In Washington, visiting BJP chief Rajnath Singh denied he had gone their seeking a visa for Modi and the US State Department said its policy had not changed. As Modi's aides saw it, the US' latest statement was clear.

"If (the Gujarat) Chief Minister Modi applies for a visa, his application will be considered to determine whether he qualifies for a visa, in accordance with US immigration law and policy," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, told reporters in Washington. She said the US policy on this had not changed, but refused to discuss the "specifics of that process or individual cases."

In 2005, the US denied Modi a visa, citing "the violation of religious freedoms" in Gujarat.

Subsequently, groups of US Congressmen had petitioned both for and against a visa for him. In fact, the denial of the visa had seen Modi focusing more on inviting investments from other countries, particularly China, Japan and European countries.

UK was last to join the list of diplomats willing to engaging him for the sake of investment option in his state.

Back home, DMK chief M Karunanidhi said his party did not approve interference by MPs as the row over 65 MPs appealing to US President Barrack Obama was unabated.

Some of the MPs disputed their signature shown as appended to the letter sent to the White House.

Karunanidhi said his party MPs had denied signing the letter and warned of action if they had signed it. "The DMK does not interfere in the Centre's foreign policy or the internal affairs of a foreign country," he said.

But Rajya Sabha member Mohammed Adeeb, who initiated the move, continued to insist that the letter was authentic. He alleged that MPs like CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury were bowing to pressure from their parties to disclaim the note.

Mr Adeeb said the letter was re-sent to the White House, to checkmate the effort of Rajnath Singh, who was in the US, in support of Modi.

The BJP would move a privilege motion seeking action for alleged forgery of signatures of some MPs, party spokesperson Prakash Javedekar said.

A day ago, the party had said the letter by 65 MPs appeared to be the handiwork of the "dirty tricks department" of Congress and demanded a probe into the matter.

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