Khurshid contradicts govt stand on Modi's US visa

External affairs minister invokes Holocaust while talking of Gujarat riots

While US initiated a sharp U-turn in its policy towards Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s reaction on Tuesday was not in sync with the official position the United Progressive Alliance government took in 2005.

Reacting to the US move to have a meeting between its envoy to India, Nancy J Powell, and Modi, Khurshid said the US approach to the BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls should be consistent with its professed policies on human rights issues.

“He is not the example that should be seen as an Indian. We are a country that believes in Gandhian way of life, compassion, service without recognition and none of these terms applies to Modi,” Khurshid told journalists after the US State Department in Washington and Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi confirmed that Powell would meet Modi.
The American ambassador is likely to travel to Gandhinagar to meet Modi on Thursday, ending a nine-year-long boycott.

 Khurshid also said it would be interesting to know what Powell would tell Modi since India had been ‘lectured’ on human rights issues “by some countries” in the past.

“There are a lot of things that they will not and we should not put behind. The Holocaust is not put behind and if Holocaust is not put behind who are we to lecture them to say you put Holocaust behind?” he added.

His comment was apparently an attempt to compare the genocide of six million Jews by Nazi Germany led by Adolph Hitler during World War II with the Gujarat riots in 2002.

The External Affairs Minister’s strong reaction was not in sync with the position of the Congress-led UPA government, which had in 2005 requested the US to review the decision to revoke the tourist/business visa earlier issued to Modi.

The US, however, had turned down the request and stuck to its earlier decision to deny Modi entry into America.

The American State Department in March 2005 revoked the tourist/business visa issued to Modi, in view of his alleged role in the 2002 riots.

Modi’s fresh application for a diplomatic visa was also turned down around the same time. Erstwhile US ambassador to India, David C Mulford, on March 21, 2005, stated that the decision to revoke the visa issued to Modi had been based on the ‘fact that, as head of the State Government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time.”

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