A warm handshake coupled with a bouquet of yellow and red roses along with some frantic clicking of cameras and this all was enough to end a nine-year boycott of BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi over the 2002 Gujarat riots by US on Thursday.
What is truly remarkable is that since the visa ban on Modi from March 2005, it is the first visit by any US ambassador to him in the last nine long years during which Modi has uplifted himself enough in the national politics to be the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Peter Hass, consul general of US in Mumbai and few other top officials of the US embassy were also there to accompany Powell in the meet.
Modi’s official residence saw Powell meeting him for one hour and 15 minutes to have formal talks on several topics. But, according to reports, the patchy discussion on the issue regarding visa ban was avoided by a diplomatic Modi. It should be remembered that US had put the ban on Modi for his alleged failure in protecting the rights of religious minorities in the state during 2002 riots.
Reports say that during the course of time, they had discussed business and trade issues between the two countries as well as US’s urge to participate in the green energy development drive in Gujarat and India, cultural ties between the two countries etc. The issue of justice for Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in US was reportedly raised by Modi in the meet to which the US diplomat replied in affirmative.
BJP was approached by the US embassy last month seeking to know whether a meeting between Modi and Powell was possible or not. On getting a favourable and enthusiastic response from the party, the ministry of external affairs was sought a clearance for the meet by the embassy.
In a statement on Thursday, the embassy said that the meeting was just a part of the US mission’s outreach to senior leaders of major political parties of India in advance of the upcoming national elections.
Powell will meet with representatives from non-governmental organizations and US and Indian businesses during her visit to Gujarat. The importance of the US-India relationship, human rights, regional security issues, and American trade and investment in India will be focused by her in each of her meets with the top political personalities of India so that this healthy relation between the two countries may keep going on in future even if there comes a political changeover in India almost after a decade.
Powell arriving in Ahmedabad on a three-day visit on Wednesday has plans to visit Sardar Patel memorial, Sabarmati Ashram, heritage monuments like Sidi Saiyedni Mosque, and the stepwell of Adalaj. A seminar in Pandit Deen Dayal Petroleum University and a SEWA event will also be attended by her.
With all these in the backdrop, Congress has already started winking their eyes as to what miracle has led to such a drastic change in US’s policy towards Modi whereas BJP is truly enthusiastic in this move saying that US has corrected its mistakes done in the past. But it remains to be seen whether the US government lifts the ban from Modi soon or it chooses to wait till the national elections are over in India.