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CM fumes at affront to 'Gujarati pride'

Ahmedabad, March 18: Stung by the refusal of visa, Narendra Modi breathed fire at the US and said he was fighting for 'national honour'.

The US decision was 'illogical', against 'democracy and human rights' and was a 'violation of judicial norms', he fumed, besides being an affront to 'Gujarati pride'.

The Gujarat chief minister also tried to turn the issue into a test of Delhi's relations with Washington. Thanking the Manmohan Singh government for its support, in an exclusive interview to STAR News, he said the Bush administration's response would determine how it held India.

'There is no judicial process going on against me ' neither in any Indian court nor in any international court,' Modi said at a news conference earlier in the day, adding that no court had indicted him or his government for the Gujarat riots.

Last year, transferring the Best Bakery trial outside Gujarat, the Supreme Court had said: 'The modern-day Neros were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.'

Throwing out a subsequent appeal by the Modi government to expunge the reference to 'modern-day Neros', the court said: 'We never tried to identify the persons.... It is after the judgment that they are trying to identify themselves with this act (of filing the review application).'

Gujarat had been peaceful since 2002, the chief minister said.

'Subsequently, elections were held. This is an elected government. The US claims to believe in democracy but this attitude proves it otherwise.'

'The argument that I was denied visa because of the 2002 riots does not stand because I am having my US visa since 1998 which was valid till 2008. Why did they not cancel my visa earlier' he asked.

America should not single out any incident to impose its laws on citizens of another country while granting visa, he said.

Modi may not know but Jyoti Basu, at the other end of the political spectrum, could not go to the US until the fall of the Berlin Wall because he refused to answer the question in the visa form if he was a communist. The clause was later dropped.

The chief minister said the allegations made against him were similar to those hurled at President George W. Bush. Modi added: 'If an American citizen wants to come to India, are we going to question what the US did in Iraq and deny them visa'

Attacking the US for its 'duplicity and double standards', Modi asked why it had maintained friendly relations with Pakistan although the country has 'sponsored terrorism in Kashmir, forcing the Hindu minority to flee the Valley'.

Modi asked who the US government had consulted before deciding on the refusal and whether the American ambassador had 'surrendered to anti-India NGOs and lobbies'.

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