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Crush of US politicians meeting Modi

A previously unscheduled meeting with Republican governor of New Jersey Chris Christie nearly wrecked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s afternoon engagements on Saturday.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2014 02:16 IST
Yashwant Raj

A previously unscheduled meeting with Republican governor of New Jersey Chris Christie nearly wrecked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s afternoon engagements on Saturday.

Christie was lucky he was accommodated despite his last minute request. Many US lawmakers who sought one-on-one meetings were less fortunate, and had to settle for regrets.

The meeting with Christie was announced by MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin in the afternoon. He said “it was not scheduled previously”.

Christie was once a leading Republican contender for the party’s nomination to run for the White House in 2016. He has lost some of that sheen since, but not all of it.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who could be the Democratic nominee for president if decides to run, is meeting Modi too, with her husband Bill Clinton.
There is a crush of US politicians who want to meet the visiting Indian prime minister — both here in New York and then starting next Monday in Washington DC.

South Carolina’s Indian-descent governor Nikki Haley will met Modi over breakfast on Sunday — just warm water for PM — and then attend the Madison Square Garden reception.

Modi will have the chance to see and meet many more at the MSG event, where he is to get a rockstar reception accorded to few visiting foreign leaders, if at all.

Organizers are expecting — on the basis of confirmed RSVPs — at least one governor, that is Haley, and three senators — Bob Menendez, Joe Donnelly and Cory Booker, all Democrats.

And at least 33 members of the House of Representatives, including Steny Hoyer, Ed Royce, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Ami Bera and Tulsi Gabbard — from both parties.

And, don’t forget, they are all taking a break from their re-election campaigns to come for the event — with Royce making the trip all the way across the country from California.

It was because of the mid-term elections that House speaker John Boehner was unable to invite the prime minister to address a joint session of congress, as demanded by many lawmakers.

Boehner extended Modi an open invitation instead to do that address any time he would be in DC, an offer that both surprised and impressed the Indian government.

The speaker and other members of the House are meeting the prime minister on September 30, but a request for a separate meeting with senate leaders had to be turned down.

“We have urged them to join the House meeting,” a source said, adding, “we would really like to accommodate them — but there is not scope for it PM's sked (short for schedule)..”

The prime minister leaves for Delhi within hours.