After the UK, now, the US seems to be softening its stand on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He had been denied a US visa in the wake of the communal riots in his state in 2002 that claimed over 1,000 lives.
Ending a 10-year boycott of Modi, the UK had announced a resumption of engagement with Gujarat in October 2012. Early this month, Minister of State for Foreign Office Hugo Swire had met Modi in Gandhinagar and discussed business and cultural ties.
Today, a delegation comprising US Congress members, as well as businessmen, called upon Modi “to promote people-to-people contacts and diplomatic ties”. The delegation was led by Republican Congress members Aaron Schock, Cynthia Lummis and Cathy M Rodgers. Earlier in the day, the delegation had visited Sabarmati Ashram.
“We invited Modi to visit the US,” Schock told reporters.
When asked about the US government’s stand on not granting visa to Modi, Rodgers said they and the US administration would look into the issue.
On whether the delegation’s visit indicated the US was reconsidering its stand on Modi, a US consulate spokesperson said: “The US Congress is the legislative branch of the US government and is separate from the administration.”
The delegation’s visit is part of the Overseas Friends of BJP’s Global Community Overreach Programme’, a joint initiative by the US-based National Indian-American Public Policy Institute and the Delhi Study Group.
While interacting with the delegation, Modi said: “Humanitarian forces must come together and fight terrorism and the challenges of poverty and unemployment.”
On development in Gujarat, he said participation of the people was vital to the process. “With hard work, we have been able to create an impact in the country,” he said. “Mahatma Gandhi has been, and is, the biggest lighthouse in this journey. Gujarat, being the land of Mahatma Gandhi, believes in these principles and has been at the forefront of nurturing such ideals and leading its people on the path of growth,” he said, adding, as the US was the world’s oldest democracy and India the largest, both should remain committed to these principles.
Rodger said she was impressed with the economic development in Gujarat and the way the administration had addressed corruption in the state. “Modi has brought a change in people’s lives. We look forward to working together,” she said.
Schock said the people in the US were keen to work with Gujarat. They were impressed by the way the state had facilitated investment, he said, adding there was enormous potential to work with Gujarat.
During the interaction, senior Gujarat government officials made presentations on investment opportunities in the state, including projects such as the Dholera special investment region and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. The delegation would also visit Bangalore, Tirupati, New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and Amritsar.