Prime Minister Narendra Modi has undertaken more foreign trips than his predecessors Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the first two years in office.
When Modi leaves for a four-nation trip to Africa on Thursday, it will be his 24th foreign tour since he assumed power in May 2014, travelling to 38 countries.
Vajpayee, during his entire tenure as the prime minister of the first NDA government during 1999 to 2004, had gone on 19 trips to 26 nations—a record which his party colleague Modi has already surpassed.
Singh, who saw more off-shore engagements than Vajpayee, went on 16 foreign trips between May 2004 and July 2006, visiting as many countries. Out of these, Singh’s 6 tours were confined to Europe and the United States.
In contrast, Vajpayee went to the US or EU countries only thrice during his first two years as the PM.
Modi, the only PM among the three, who started off his foreign tours from a neighbouring country—Bhutan—has gone to the EU and the US nine times, possibly indicating deeper bilateral ties with the western world.
A recent analysis by Hindustan Times also showed that Modi travelled more air miles than US President Barack Obama during the first two years in power. Obama toured only 25 countries between January 2009 to January 2011 and flew only 1,56,336 air miles.
Modi flew 1,64,187 air miles between May 2014 and May 2016.
The Opposition has often criticised PM Modi for his foreign trips. After the BJP’s debacle in Bihar polls in 2015, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi “advised” Modi to cut down on his tours abroad.
Analysts, however, say the Prime Minister of an emerging economy like India has to give more time to foreign engagements, given the country’s standing in the international community.