New Delhi, June 30: For a long time, the US may not hear the last from the BJP on the “denial” of a visa to Narendra Modi during the nearly decade-and-a-half he was Gujarat chief minister.
Prakash Javadekar, the minister of state with independent charge of environment, told US assistant secretary for environment Daniel A. Reifsnyder a thing or two on the nettlesome issue on the sidelines of the first UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi last week.
A source close to Javadekar said when Reifsnyder — who led the US delegation — spoke “glowingly” about Modi’s mandate and stressed that the US “looked forward” to a “deeper engagement” with him, the minister retorted by asking what had provoked the US to “blow up” Modi’s visa issue “out of proportion”.
The source said Javadekar “bluntly” told Reifsnyder that since Modi had never sought a visa, the question of granting or denying him one “did not arise”.
The US’s “exaggerated” sense as a “major pillar of dissent” against Modi for his alleged complicity in the 2002 Gujarat communal violence rankled the leader himself, the BJP and his cheerleaders in the US, said party sources.
Their view was that Washington had allowed itself to be influenced by “key” UPA ministers, some senior bureaucrats and high-profile Modi baiters in civil society into not engaging with the then Gujarat chief minister.
Indeed, when the US cracked down on diplomat Devyani Khobragade and had her arrested on visa fraud charges, BJP leaders claimed Washington had cocked a snook on the Indian establishment because the UPA government allowed Washington to “run roughshod” over Modi for its political expediency.
The Nairobi congregation presented a different picture. Javadekar was flooded with congratulatory messages for Modi.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told the minister in Hindi — he had done a stint in India — to convey his “warmest regards” to Modi and added he had already called the Prime Minister after his win.
Others who wished Javadekar included his counterparts, Khaled Mohamad Fahmy Abdel Aaal of Egypt, Jocher Flashbath of Germany and Janez Potocnik of the European Union.
Javadekar had yesterday tweeted that the “world is very excited about the verdict given by Indian voters to the Narendra Modi government in the world’s largest democratic elections”.
Asked what the “excited world” sought from the Modi dispensation in tangible terms, a source close to Javadekar said: “Economics, investment openings and quick decisions”.