Congressman distances himself from Modi fan club event in US
Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times
Washington, November 16, 2013
First Published: 22:02 IST(16/11/2013)
Last Updated: 14:42 IST(18/11/2013)
Questions are being raised about Modi fan club’s plan to solicit and showcase the support of Republican lawmakers at an upcoming event on the Capitol Hill.
At least one Republican lawmaker, Congressman Pete Sessions, distanced himself from that event saying on Friday he has nothing to do with it, and he had not agreed to attend it.
And Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), a non-profit that tracks Modi supporters here, complained to the Republican leadership of the organiser’s claim of party’s support.
The event, called Bharat Day, is being organised by National Indian-American Public Policy Institute, headed by businessman Shalabh Kumar, on the Hill on November 19.
The invitation flyer claims Speaker John Boehner, Majority leader Eric Cantor, party conference leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Sessions would be attending.
Their pictures are prominently displayed along with leaders expected to join in from India— including Chief Minister Narendra Modi, through satellite link.
Kumar is among Modi’s leading supporters here, taking Rodgers and two other Republican lawmakers to India earlier this year to meet the Gujarat chief minister.
But his next project -- the event -- is under a cloud now.
“At no point in time did I agree to attend this event, nor did I approve of the use of my name or image on this invitation,” Sessions said in a statement his office released to CAG.
“Had I known that my name and image were on this invitation before it was distributed, I would have requested that they both be removed,” he added.
CAG has claimed that Rodgers’s office had issued a letter to the organizer to “cease and desist” from associating her to the event. This couldn’t be independently confirmed.
Rodgers, in fact, is co-hosting an outreach to the Indian-American community the same day on the Capitol Hill, rolling out the party’s senior leaders, including Cantor.
Indian-Americans have stayed away from the Republican Party mostly despite two of its governors—Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal — being of Indian descent.
This outreach, however, has nothing to do with Kumar’s event.
In response to Sessions’s statement, Kumar said, “NIAPPI stands by its invitation to Indian Americans to attend Bharat Day on Capitol Hill. It also stands by its good faith expectations of Congressional Leaders to attend the Bharat Day celebrations.”
He doubted the veracity of Sessions’s statement: “NIAPPI does not believe the statement was signed or approved by Chairman Sessions, as I was with him practically the entire day.”