US opens its gates to Modi

A delegation from the US, including members of the House of Representatives and business leaders, met Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and lauded the economic development in the state under his watch.

The meeting assumes significance as the US has been denying Modi a visa for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

PR coup? Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with US Congress representatives Aaron Schock, Kathy McMorris-Rodgers and Cynthia Lummis in Gandhinagar. They praised Modi for the development in Gujarat. Pic/AFP

Thursday’s visit by Republican lawmakers Aaron Schock, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers and Cynthia Lummis was a public relations coup for Modi, who has been trying to cultivate an image of a statesman.

Schock, an Illinois Congressman, told a news conference that American business leaders had encouraged him to visit Gujarat “because unlike other places in India our foreign investment is welcome”.

“My colleagues and I were thoroughly impressed with our meeting with Modi and I will tell you that he is a very dynamic person and he has a pretty impressive track record here in the state of Gujarat. We extended an invitation to the chief minister to come to the United States and share with our colleagues some of what he’s done here in the state.”

McMorris-Rodgers, who is from Washington state and is the fourth-ranking Republican leader in the House of Representatives, said US lawmakers would work with the Obama administration to ease the travel curbs on Modi.

Schock also lauded the development in Gujarat, saying that the delegates respected Indian democracy.

“We appreciate Modi’s work. We are a democracy and respect other democracies. He has won for the fourth time, this is a great success,” Schock said.

Modi quickly tweeted that the congressional delegation had lauded his leadership abilities.

“I spoke to the US delegation about how Gujarat has adopted a faster, inclusive and environment-friendly process of development,” Narendra Modi said in a comment on Twitter.

“Am thankful to the members of US Congress and business persons for their kind words on Gujarat’s development,” he said.

There was no immediate comment from the State Department but Robert Blake, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said in February that the United States was not reconsidering its policy towards Modi.

A US embassy spokesman declined to comment on the lawmakers’ visit.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has maintained that Modi has never sought a visa in the first place.

Did you know?
The US has been denying Modi a visa citing his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Even representatives from the UK refused to meet with him until this year

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