One of the highlights of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States in September was expected to be an address to a joint meeting of the US Congress. However, a letter from the Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner has ended speculation: the event is off the agenda.
In the letter, dated July 30, addressed to the PM, Boehner stated, “If not for the unpredictability of the House schedule in late September of this year, an invitation for you to address a Joint Meeting during your upcoming trip to the United States would have been extended.”
Boehner also said in the letter that he wanted the PM to be “aware” of the interest that existed in the US House of Representatives to have him address a joint meeting, though at a “future date.”
The principal reason for the falling through of the address is that the Congress will be going into recess earlier than expected as Republicans seek additional time to campaign ahead of the November mid-term elections.
In a statement to HT, representative Joe Crowley, co-chair of the India Caucus said, “I am very disappointed that the newly elected leader of a democratic country of 1.3 billion people will not be able to address Congress. As India plays an increasingly important role on the global stage, US-India ties have never been more relevant, and I hope Republican leaders in Congress realise that this is a lost opportunity.”
Meanwhile, leading members of the caucus are attempting to ensure this doesn’t further jeopardise relations between the US and the BJP government.
The Democratic and Republican co-chairs of the caucus are trying to put together an event at which Modi can address its members.
While the PM’s schedule for the trip remains tentative, the focus will be his bilateral meeting with American President Barack Obama, and his maiden speech at the UN General Assembly.