HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

US delegates reject allegations over Gujarat trip

PTI  Gandhinagar/Washington, March 30, 2013
First Published: 16:52 IST(30/3/2013) | Last Updated: 20:05 IST(30/3/2013)

Amidst a raging controversy over the funding of the visit of three members of the US Congress, who have spoken for an American visa for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the Congressmen rejected allegations questioning the legitimacy of their trip.

The visit of a group of Americans including the three Congressmen - Aaron Schock, Cynthia Lummis and Cathy M Rodgers - and some businessmen has now been mired in a controversy following reports that the team members may have paid between $3000 (Rs 1.6 lakh) and  $16000 (Rs 8.68 lakh) each for the trip.

Organised by Chicago-based National Indian American Public Policy Institute (NIAPPI), the trip included visits to Bangalore, Tirupati, Jaipur, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and Golden Temple in Amritsar and a 'Bollywood Extravaganza'.

The team met Modi on Thursday, praised his work and invited him to visit the US, saying they will work to get him a visa, denied by the country for his alleged role in the post-Godhra riots of 2002.

Following reports in an ethnic Indian daily in the US on the trip, the Congress and BJP traded attacks on each other. NRI businessman and founder of NIAPPI Shalabh Kumar said, "There is a very strong House Ethics Committee that disapproves or approves visits by Congressmen to other countries".

"So an organisation like NIAPPI that is a think tank that sponsors visits, and trade people who want to go and establish business," Kumar said.

Alvi said, "One feels ashamed over this kind of news. It is an insult to a nation. The Congressmen were given Rs. 9 lakh each so that America can give him (Modi) visa and a certificate of development.

"This is unfortunate. If the money had been spent in Gujarat for the poor and development, then it would have been much better," he said.

Jolly said there was no controversy at all. In America, people even pay for attending a dinner with the President.

"The US businessmen wanted to come to India. They spend their own money. They have been attracted by Narendra Modi's governance," he said, attacking the Congress for making an issue of the trip.

Gujarat Congress billed the visit as "nothing but a marketing gimmick by some global public relations firm to market Modi".

Congress president Arjun Modhwadia alleged that an impression was created as if it was an official US delegation and the US government itself has extended the invitation to Modi to visit America.

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