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Many MPs keep off letter to Obama on Modi visa

New Delhi, Jul 24, 2013 DHNS
File Image: CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury

A move by some Indian Parliamentarians to petition US President Barak Obama urging him not to lift the ban on visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has courted controversy, with some of the 65 MPs denying that they were signatories to the campaign.’

The MPs also said they abhorred the idea of seeking foreign intervention in domestic affairs.

 Forty Lok Sabha and 25 Rajya Sabha MPs had reportedly signed the letter.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)  described the effort as part of a conspiracy, as many signatories denied signing the letter. BJP spokesman Prakash Javedkar said: “Many of the signatories have denied signing this memorandum. This shows that it was a conspiracy. It is the Congress' dirty trick department which is at work now.”

Another party spokesperson, Nirmala Sitharaman, questioned the leaders wanting to engage, what she termed, a “third umpire” in “an Indian political fight”. “External help to contain Narendra Modi? These 65 MPs have failed to engage him politically. Sponsored activists don't trust Indian courts. Seeking external assistance to prop up their unjust cause. A third umpire in the US for an Indian political fight?" she tweeted.

Sudarshan Bhagat, party MP from Lohardaga in Jharkhand, claimed he had written to Speaker Meera Kumar requesting a proper enquiry into the matter. “These are serious charges and amount to forgery,” he said.

The December 2012 marked to Obama was re-dispatched to the White House to counter BJP President Rajnath Singh’s effort to convince the US government to undo the past and grant visa to Modi. Singh is in the US now.

At least five Congress MPs are among the signatories. However, the party on Wednesday sought to disapprove of lawmakers from writing to the US President on the issue. The controversial initiative, taken by independent Rajya Sabha member Mohammad Adeeb, was also junked by the United Progressive Alliance  government.

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said: “It is not right for anyone to ask like this. It's for the US to decide. We should solve our issues at home.”

The move, apparently aimed at countering Modi, now the BJP poll campaign’s face, took a dramatic turn after CPM leader Sitaram Yechury denied signing the letter.

“I don't remember having signed any such letter. It suggests some cut-and-paste job. I deny having signed any such letter. It is neither in my character nor in the principles of my party to petition any sovereign country on matters that fall strictly within the sovereign domain of that country,” he said in a statement. Adeeb told a news channel: “I am shocked, I don't believe that a person like Yechury can say this. I have his signature. His name is on number nine. How can I paste it? I am a Member of Parliament and I cannot do such a thing. If he thinks I have cheated him, I will take him to court.”

The MP from Uttar Pradesh said an inquiry should be conducted. “But, I’m hurt when my integrity is doubted,” he said. “The nation is bigger than politics,” said Congress spokesman Raj Babbar. He said the Congress had not spoken or discussed any such move at any forum. At the same time, he said the party was not aware of what MPs do in their individual capacity. Babbar, a Lok Sabha member, said MPs could approach the Privileges Committee if they are alleging that their signatures were forged. NCP chief whip in the Lok Sabha Sanjeev Naik said his signature was forged.


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