From H-1B visas to trade, Congress throws questions at Modi before Trump visit
New Delhi, Feb 23: Ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit, the Congress on Sunday asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi would raise with him the issue of easing H-1B visas, restoration of GSP status and security concerns over Taliban.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked why Prime Minister Modi is silent about "India First" as President Trump talked of "America First".
He also asked whether Modi would ensure cheaper oil for India after it stopped buying oil from Iran in view of sanctions and if Indian steel exports would get a boost after India commits to USD 3 billion defence purchases.
"Trump Government's restrictive immigration policies have hit H-1B visas. Indians get 70 pc of 85000 H-1B Visas. "Now, Rejection Rate for India has increased from 6 pc in 2015 to 24 pc in 2019, especially for IT professionals. Post 10 million people gala event, Will PM Modi ask for easing H-1B visas," he asked on Twitter. Surjewala said as US prepares to sign a deal with Taliban on February 29, what about India's red lines. "Have we forgotten IC-814 hijacking and release of terrorist Masood Azhar in Kandhar, who's JeM then attacked Parliament and Pulwama? As gala bash unfolds, Will Modiji raise our National Security concerns," he said.
The Congress leader said continuing since 1974, the US removed India from Duty Free Imports i.e GSP (generalised system of preferences) on 5 June, 2019. It has affected the USD 5.6 billion Indian exports to the US, especially gems, jewellery, rice, leather, he noted. "Post 'Howdy Modi' and 'Namaste Trump' gala events, Will PM ensure restoration of GSP status," he asked.
Surjewala said up till 2018, India imported 250 crore ton Crude Oil/month from Iran on Rupee payment, 90 days credit and doorstep delivery. The Modi government stopped buying cheaper Iran oil as per US sanctions that raised oil prices in India, he alleged. "As fest continues in Ahmedabad, Will Modiji secure cheaper oil for India," he asked.
The Congress leader alleged that India's exports of USD 761 million of steel to the US fell by 50 pc to USD 372 million as the Trump Government hiked tariffs on import by 25 pc. "As India commits to USD 3 billion Defense purchases, why zero relief for India's export of steel? US President Trump is on a visit to India from February 24 and 25.