Saturday, April 28, 2012

No change in policy denying visa to Modi, asserts US

Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid takes a jibe at the CM; says Modi should a give to thought to why the world thinks so poorly of him

WASHINGTON/DELHI The US has said there is no change in its visa policy with regard to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. “Our position on the visa issue hasn’t changed at all,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference. Nuland was responding to questions on the letter written by Congressman Joe Walsh to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the US government reverse its 2005 decision not to issue US visa to Modi. The letter by Walsh was written about a fortnight ago. “If we do respond, it’ll be along familiar lines,” Nuland said. In a statement, the Indian American Muslim community demanded the State Department should not change its 2005 policy on Modi’s visa. Meanwhile Union Minister for Law and Justice Salman Khurshid took a jibe at Modi stating that he should contemplate why the United States was still not in favour of giving him a visa. Khurshid mentioned it was a matter of concern that a question mark hung over someone who was heading a major state in the country. “I am sure that they (US) look at everything they want to look at... not for us to comment on US policy but it is a matter of serious concern that there is this kind of serious question mark on the personality of somebody who leads a major state in our country,” Khurshid told reporters in Delhi. The Union minister was asked to comment on the US, which had in 2005 decided not to issue visa to Modi, and later reiterated that there was no change in its visa policy towards him. “It is sad but we have that. I hope that the person concerned will reflect upon this and think about it and think about why the world thinks so poorly of him,” Khurshid added. Modi was first denied a visa in 2005 by the United States. The US had then said that it could not issue him a diplomatic visa because of its Immigration and Nationality Act which states that “any foreign government official responsible for serious violation of religious freedom is ineligible for a visa.” Modi had described it as an attack on India’s sovereignty. But the US also revoked an earlier visa that had been issued to him in 1998. And though the US government may not have warmed up to Modi, its companies have shown willingness to partner him. Car giant Ford is setting up a unit at Sanand near Ahmedabad and there are proposals to make investments in the chemical sector in south Gujarat. The US-India Business Council (USIBC), a powerful forum that brings together captains of industry from both countries, has hailed Gujarat and Karnataka, another BJPgoverned state, as ideal investment destinations within India. Given his ban from the US, Modi often addresses Gujaratis in the country via teleconference, urging them to help bring more investment to the state while highlighting the opportunities for investors.