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Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in International, Politics, Religion | 0 comments

US ends boycott of India’s Prime Minister-aspirant Narendra Modi

Obama and Modi

After humiliating and bycotting Narendra Modi, India’s powerful leader beloging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the US administration has finally woken up from its Rip Van Winkle sleep after almost a decade. The US ambassador to India, Nancy Powell will meet Narendra Modi on Thursday in Gandhinagar, the capital city of Gujarat, India’s western state that has elected Modi as the Chief Minister three times. The present meeting comes just months ahead of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of India’s Parliament) elections where Modi is a front-runner for the post of Prime Minister, which is currently occupied by Dr Manmohan Singh in the Congress party-led UPA government. More here…

In 2005, the United States revoked Modi’s visa under an American law that bars entry by any foreign official seen as responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom”. Modi has denied wrongdoing, and investigations and courts have cleared him of personal blame in the 2002 Gujarat violence, although one of his former ministers was jailed for life for instigating the killing of 97 Muslims.

Update: The official US statement after Ambassador Nancy Powell met Narendra Modi at his Gandhinagar residence today (February 13)suggests that Uncle Sam is quietly preparing for a Modi government (Central Government in New Delhi) after May (India’s General Elections). It also means that the visa issue will become a non-issue if he becomes PM. More here… http://www.firstpost.com/world/modi-powell-meet-means-us-believes-he-could-win-2014-polls-1388409.html

It is surprising that the US administration waited for so long although the American think-tanks, both private and government, had clearly predicted in their reports that the stars of Modi were on the ascendant. These were the US Congressional Report and the Brookings Institution Report prepared three years ago. William J. Antholis, Managing Director of the Brookings Institution stated: “Meet India’s most admired and most feared politician: Narendra Modi. The world’s largest democracy, India, could elect him Prime Minister. And the world’s leading democracy, the United States, currently does not issue him a visa. I spent 90 minutes with Mr. Modi earlier this month at his Chief Minister’s residence in Gujarat – a state of 60 million people, about the same size as France, Britain, or Italy, and practically twice as big as California…” Read more here…

The Obama administration made Narendra Modi wait for more than eight years for any contact. But in the end, it was the Gujarat chief minister who forced Washington to plead — not once, not twice, but thrice in the past three months before agreeing to terminate a diplomatic spat that began when the US denied Modi a visa in 2005 (and is still denying him the American visa), writes The Telegraph. Interestingly, China has also been wooing Modi for the past few years.

The European Union’s top envoy in New Delhi and the ambassadors of Italy, Germany, Greece and six other European nations met Modi earlier in the year. And in October last year, British high commissioner James Bevan travelled to Gandhinagar to meet Modi, the highest diplomatic contact between the UK and the chief minister Modi since the Gujarat riots. More here…

The US was now in an awkward situation, left alone in its boycott of Narendra Modi after the European Union and Britain made up with him. Now America has accepted the conditions as laid by Modi for the interview with Ambassador Nancy Powell. “He (Modi) got what he wanted, and he got it exactly the way he wanted,” an official said. “In the end, they (the US) were chasing him.” More here…

A nervous Dr Manmohan Singh, India’s octogenarian prime minister, recently attacked his most likely successor, Narendra Modi, saying that his (Modi’s) victory would be “disastrous” for the country as he (Manmohan Singh) announced his own imminent retirement from politics, reports FT.com In a rare press conference – his first in more than three years – Mr Singh on Friday said he would not seek a third term after India’s general elections later this year, and would “hand over the baton” even if his now-ruling Congress party were to win an unlikely victory.

“The architect of India’s market-opening reforms in 1991, Mr Singh was unexpectedly elevated to the premiership by the Congress party’s Italian-born leader Sonia Gandhi in 2004, after she led the Congress to victory at the polls, before declining to lead the government. But the enthusiasm that greeted Mr Singh’s second term quickly faded with the administration, mired in allegations of corruption, struggling to slow spiralling inflation and reinvigorate faltering growth as corporate investment dried up.” More here…

The US administration’s delay in establishing contact with Modi has brought the spotlight on the functioning of the US State Department. Joan Wadleton, a US Foreign Service Officer from 1980-2011 who served in Africa, Latin America, Russia and Iraq says: “Above all, the current mess (in the State Department) is due to a longstanding lack of rigorous oversight — both external and internal. In addition, State Department’s insistence that it can manage, audit and investigate itself with no outside oversight allows existing problems to persist.” Wadelton was an advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a director of the Office of the US Trade Representative. More here…

According to the Economist: “If Mr Modi looks like the country’s leader-in-waiting, that is a measure of the state of the ruling party. Congress has been in power since 2004 and long ago lost its vim. India’s once-scintillating growth rate has fallen by half to 5%. With a need to find new jobs for 10m Indians joining the workforce each year, such sluggish growth brings a terrible human cost. It is this backdrop that makes Congress’s drift and venality look so dangerous. The 81-year-old prime minister, Manmohan Singh, once a reformer, is serving out his days as a Gandhi family retainer. Rahul Gandhi might end up as Congress’s next candidate for prime minister; yet the princeling seems neither to want the job nor to be up to doing it.” More here…

Here is my take why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed in his mission to govern India properly. Please see here…

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