At least three ministers of the Narendra Modi government have had their plans to visit London shot down by the Prime Minister’s Office, but Union minister for environment Prakash Javadekar finally made it here on Friday evening – albeit, by video.
Until two weeks ago, Javadekar's presence here to inaugurate an Environmental Film Festival was scheduled, and arrangements were progressing accordingly. However, word reached here recently that the visit has been dropped due to the forthcoming elections in Maharashtra.
Javadekar instead sent a three-minute video-message that was played out before the gathering that included Baroness Verma, a minister in Britain’s department of environment and climate change. There was much applause after the video-message was played out.
The first minister of the Modi government to visit London in person will be external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who is expected here in mid-October for the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.
After the Modi government took over in May, the first minister who had his London plans spiked by the PMO was Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, who wanted to come here on a four-day visit in early July to get a first-hand experience of Britain’s road safety legislation.
It is understood that arrangements for Gadkari's stay here were made, but soon word arrived that the PMO had refused him permission due to the then forthcoming budget session.
There are reports that another minister with independent charge of a major ministry was also denied permission to travel to London.
The Cabinet Secretariat reportedly issued a circular in June that all proposals by ministers seeking the Prime Minister’s approval for official visits abroad will have to inform the PMO on the outcome of earlier foreign visits and how the country gained from it.
The Environment Film Festival is showing 12 short, educative films on issues related to climate change and environment. It has been has been organised by the London-based Sanskruti Centre and TERRE Policy Centre, in association with European Energy Council & Centro Studi Galileo (Italy).