|Date: 18 Mar 2005|
Source: Deccan Herald
Author: L K Sharma
The Coalition Against Genocide not only convinced US
Congressmen to take an anti-Modi stand but also asked
sponsors of the meet to withdraw.
The denial of a US visa to Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi has angered his supporters in the Indian
community in America. But it has been welcomed by his
critics who often remind the Americans of Mr Modi’s
role in the communal riots in Gujarat.
The State Department’s action is seen as a victory of
the anti-Modi campaign by an umbrella organisation
‘Coalition Against Genocide’ (CAG) that is demanding
justice for the riot victims.
The campaign earlier had persuaded a TV talk show host
Chris Mathew's not to participate in the convention of
the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association where the
chief minister was to be the chief guest. They also
asked some American companies to withdraw their
sponsorship because Mr Modi was going to attend the
function to be held from March 24 in Florida.
The business organisation of hotel and motel owners,
dominated by Gujaratis, had hoped to benefit from Mr
Modi’s visit but the invitation to him has turned out
to be a public relations disaster.
The incident further polarised the Indians living in
the US, some of whom owe allegiance to the BJP and are
not sensitive to communal strife in India. While they
have a vast network, the campaigners against attempts
to diminish secular India seek help from the
like-minded groups in the US.
The Gujarat riots activated the Indian Muslim Council,
an advocacy group dedicated to promoting pluralism in
the US and India. As a member of the CAG, it welcomed
the denial of the US visa to Mr Modi.
Dr Shaik Ubaid, council president, said the State
Department’s decision was a great victory for
pluralism, justice and rule of law. He said, “the RSS
was launching Mr Modi as their next Vajpayee, their
next Prime Minister. The launch site has now become
the burial ground of this sinister plan.”
He congratulated Secretary of State Rice for taking a
moral stand against religious hatred and pogroms and
hoped that the US government will now investigate the
activities of Hindutva hate groups in the US.
While many members of the hotel owners’ association
may not have felt comfortable about the Gujarat chief
minister’s visit, the office-bearers had hoped that
the Gujarat chief minister’s visit might open new
However, some Indian social activists saw that the
invitation to Mr Modi designed to promote the
“Hindutva agenda” in India by filling the coffers of
his party and by projecting him as the potential
leader of the BJP capable of appearing on the national
and international stage.
The hotel owners’ organisation has some influence
among the US lawmakers but then the anti-communal
activists took their campaign to the same
constituency. The CAG convinced some Congressmen to
take a stand against Mr Modi’s visit.
The campaign was supported by university professors,
human rights and civil rights groups.