There have been numerous reports in the Indian media regarding Narendra Modi that “those who once refused him a visa” are now busy courting him now that he is Prime Minister. Some of Modi’s close aides have been acting triumphantly, implying that now Modi is PM the Western nations are coming to him with their tails between their legs. This is only partially true, and Indians should be wary of believing such hype.
While it is true that these countries recognise that they need to do business with India’s PM, none less than Barack Obama still sees it fit to pretty much slam Narendra Modi in public!
In a recent report [click here to view] in The Telegraph (India), Obama is reported as saying at a recent fundraiser that he is still concerned about Narendra Modi’s past. When he was asked to elaborate, he gave a cryptic reply, “My name is Barack Hussain Obama.” The implication was obvious, he used his middle name to emphasise his Muslim connection, though he is a Christian, and that this is the reason why he has concerns about Modi. The insinuations are obvious; he still holds Modi culpable for the 2002 anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat.
I’ve got to give it to Obama – at least he is being honest, though perhaps not professional in making such a statement at a time when he should be trying to create a working relationship with the Indian Prime Minister. On his part, Narendra Modi has acted quite professionally towards the USA saying that the personal insult of him being denied a visa to the USA for over a decade will not influence him, because the relationship between the two countries is of greater importance than personal issues. Obama’s statement shows that he doesn’t see the visa denial of the past as any sort of mistake. The implication is that he is willing to do business with Modi only because he has to.
From an Indian perspective, there are several concerns about the USA in general and more specifically about Obama that his comments raise, of which only a few are touched upon here.
Modi was vindicated by the Supreme Court of India, and numerous investigations and probes that took place when his political opponents were in power. Obama’s statement shows once again that he does not really respect Indian judicial process and sees allegations and gossip as a higher authority than the Supreme Court of India. Obama has not taken cognisance of the fact that the anti-Modi campaign in the USA was orchestrated and sustained by particular groups who have radical political affiliations and agendas in India, even linked with separatism and ultra-left wing violence. Obama should have looked into how small fringe groups can influence the administration so strongly as to deny entry to an elected official of a friendly democratic nation.
Finally, America has always befriended and been close to regimes which severely restrict religious freedom more than Narendra Modi was ever even alleged to have done, including several dictatorships. There has generally been a non-interfering approach in the internal matters of these nations. From the perspective of India, it is a humiliating case of double standards whereby officials from these countries have all been welcome in the USA, from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and may other worthies, while democratic India was picked on as a soft target for preachiness about religious freedom.