Narendra Modi visa talk hots up, 65 MPs write to Obama
The United States is coming under increasing pressure from within and outside the country to reverse its decision on denying a visa to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Yashwant Raj reports. 'MPs under pressure to backtrack on letter'world Updated: Jul 24, 2013 09:24 IST
The United States is coming under increasing pressure from within and outside the country to reverse its decision on denying a visa to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, who is currently in the US, has said he plans to raise the issue with lawmakers during his meetings with senators on the Capitol Hill.
Republican House representatives Aaron Schock, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Cynthia Lummis also recently visited Modi, promising to work on his visa.
But Modi has his detractors. Letters written in November and December 2012 by 65 Indian MPs asking US President Barack Obama to continue to deny Modi a visa were re-sent last Sunday.
And the head of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USIRF), Katrina Lantos, recently said: “There is significant evidence linking him to the violence (2002 Gujarat riots)…and for this reason, a visa would not be appropriate.”
Subsequently, 25 House representatives wrote a letter to the then secretary of state Hillary Clinton demanding the US should continue to deny Modi a visa.
Republicans are broadly in favour of giving Modi a visa while Democrats are not.
As per a US official statement at the time, the Gujarat CM was denied a diplomatic visa in 2005 under 214 (b) of Immigration and Nationality Act as he was not coming for a “purpose that qualify for a diplomatic visa”.
His existing tourist and business visa were revoked under Section 212 (a)(2)(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which disqualifies foreign officials “responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom”.
The US was not alone in punishing Modi for what was seen as his failure to stop the 2002 riots that claimed the lives of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.
The United Kingdom and other European Union countries joined the boycott, but relations softened relatively fast with London making peace with Modi in October 2012.
Many thought the US would follow. But it hasn’t yet.
At least not officially.
Trade and business bodies such as the US-Indian Business Council has become an enthusiastic partner of Modi and his Vibrant Gujarat and are pushing their representatives to give Modi a visa.