In 2005, when the world's only superpower denied a visa to the same Modi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was a year into the office then, expressed deep regret. He, like many other politicians across the House, had said in March 2005 [Read this Economic Times report]: "When I came to know of the denial of visa to Modi yesterday I immediately instructed our external affairs minister to call the US Ambassador and explain to them that we are greatly concerned and we greatly regret the decision that has been taken by the US government."
The fall of Manmohan and rise of Modi explain why the former is silent today
Singh also added that the Indian government was greatly concerned by the USA's action to revoke other categories of US visas already issued to Modi. He also informed the House that the then foreign secretary Shyam Saran had summoned the deputy chief of the US Mission Robert Blake to express "strong demarche" on Washington's decision. Republican George W Bush was the President of the USA then.
Singh was upset over the fact that the USA denied visa to a constitutionally elected chief minister, which was a kind of insult to an elected authority. Other senior UPA leader like Sharad Pawar had also backed Modi then and the BJP thanked the UPA government's stand on the issue, hence exhibiting a rare unity in the nation's political circles.
In 2014, the scenario has undergone a 180-degree change. After the USA, thanks to the compulsion of realpolitik, expressed its desire to reach out to Modi, who has now three consecutive assembly poll victories under his belt and is also looking favourites to become India's next prime minister, the same ruling UPA has decided to wear a look of indifference. The prime minister hasn't been heard uttering a word on the USA's U-turn so far while India's foreign minister Salman Khurshid said in his reaction that Modi can't be a brand ambassador of India.
The last nine years have seen contradictory tales unfolding for Modi and the UPA, more particularly Manmohan Singh. While the former has become a more powerful public leader, the latter has only seen a steep decline, thanks to his own default mode of silence. The US-based Time magazine reflected the reality through its cover stories on Modi and Manmohan on different occasions. While Modi was termed as a man who means business in one edition, Manmohan Singh was termed an 'underachiever' in another.
The difference has a consequence and it is showing.