Narendra Modi: USA's pendulum act says it's lacking priority

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New Delhi, Feb 20: The US has reiterated that its policy on granting visa to Chief Minister Narendra Modi will remain unchanged. US assistant secretary of state for south and central Asia Robert Blake recently said that there is no question of changing or revising or softening of stand by Washington and the policy might be revised only if the Indian judicial system completes cases against Modi. Blake said anybody is eligible to apply for a US visa but granting one or not depends on various factors.

Blake's latest comment would undoubtedly disappoint the Modi camp, particularly when the man is trying to play a bigger role in the national politics. The UK decided to lift the ban imposed on Modi prior to the Gujarat assembly polls last December while the EU also expressed its eagerness to move closer to the BJP leader following a meeting mediated by the German Ambassador.


The US had also said ahead of the Gujarat polls that it was important for Washington to maintain a good relation with Gujarat for economic reasons. US representatives also praised Modi at the  Vibrant Gujarat meet held in January.

Congress happy, BJP not concerned

The development will give some relief to the Congress for Modi's endorsement at various quarters, both home and abroad, was causing discomfort to the party. Recently, leader of an influential Muslim organisation backed the Gujarat chief minister for his development work.

The BJP, however, is not ready to attach much concern to Blake's comment. Party sources said the Gujarat CM never sought a US visa and hence the question of granting him a visa or not is totally irrelevant. But the bigger concern is that if the US continues to stick to its position of not granting visa to Modi over the 2002 riots, then it could make it difficult for him to emerge as a consensus prime ministerial candidate of the NDA for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The pro-Modi camp in the BJP and NDA will be worried on this aspect. We, Indians, after all depend on foreign approval as a certificate of our credentials. Last year, we had seen how the country's political scenario was rocked after the Time magazine dubbed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an 'underachiever'. The same Congress, which was furious with the verdict then, will be more than happy this time.

Speaking about the American policy on Modi, it seems that country itself is deeply divided on the issue. Blake's comment came in the wake of a demand from within the US political circles to reassess the Gujarat CM. Congressman FN Faleomavaega asked the US authorities to openly support Modi and acknowledge his extraordinary leadership that has helped his state to move ahead.

However, in November last year, 25 powerful US lawmakers had written to the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting her not to grant a US visa to Modi. But the US deputed a big contingent of diplomats to attend the Vibrant Gujarat summit.

The US's duality is understandable for that is a common feature in its external policies pursued at every nook and corner of the globe. We have seen in history that the US prepares it policies only to back its strategic gains, whether it is through backing tyrants or promoting the cause of human rights.

Ultimately it is the strategic benefit that matters for the US. The case with Modi is nothing different. After all, he is a democratically elected representative and not even a head of state. If the USA thinks there is really no need to entertain the man as it being projected, then there is no necessity to air remarks about not granting him visa.

The problem is: Strategic (economic) interest doesn't allow Washington to overlook Modi but at the same time, it is being pressured by some lobby to stick to a humanitarian line. The onus is clearly on the US to come out with a clear stand on the issue. Criticising Modi won't serve any purpose.

Ask the Congress.

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