|Date: 2 Jul 2008|
Author: Lalit K Jha
Claiming that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is planning to apply for the US visa to attend the World Gujarati Conference in New Jersey in August, as many as 25 Indian American organisations urged the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he should not be allowed to enter the country under any circumstances.
Sunil Nayak, head of Association of Indian American in North America, which is organising the mega event, immediately condemned such an effort. ''This is an attempt to bring politics into community event. I do not see any genuine reason why an elected Chief Minister be denied a US visa,'' Nayak told NDTV.com.
There was no immediate response from the State Department weather there is any change in the US policy on granting visa to Modi. The State Department had denied Modi a US visa in 2005.
''We urge the State Department not to allow Modi to enter the country under any conditions, as the circumstances under which he was denied a visa in 2005 remain largely unchanged, and the minority communities in his state continue to face systematic human rights violations,'' urged Coalition against Genocide in a letter to Secretary Rice.
Coalition against Genocide, a representative body of some 25 Indian American organisations, had a successful public campaign against Modi's visa application in 2005 when he was scheduled to attend the annual convention of Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
Opposing such a campaign against Modi, Nayak told NDTV.com: ''The invitation was accepted by Modi. However, we are not aware if he has applied for a US visa. This is for his office to do and at present we are not aware about it.''
Nayak was in Ahmadabad last month to invite Modi for the World Gujarati Conference 2008, which is expected to be attended by several thousand Gujaratis from all over the world.
However, officials of the Coalition Against Genocide told NDTV.Com that they have reliable information that the Gujarat Chief Minister is planning to apply for a US visa to attend the convention.
''The United States should not unwittingly be the platform from which these unrepentant and yet ascendant forces in India exploit the opportunity to rally the support base among Indian Diaspora communities and raise international legitimacy and standing,'' the Coalition wrote.
''It would be dangerous at this juncture of Indian political process to give Mr. Modi that long denied and therefore much coveted window,'' the letter said.
While the State Department did not had any response to the letter, only a few months ago, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher, had told reporters that there was no change in the US policy on the issue.