Modi's masterstroke in inviting Obama

Modi's masterstroke in inviting Obama

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pulled off a political and diplomatic masterstroke by inviting US president Barack Obama to attend the Republic Day parade as the guest of honour.

At least, that’s what many BJP leaders believe. They see Modi as having scored on several points.

One, this is the first time Delhi has invited an American president for the Republic Day parade, thereby clearly signalling on India’s intention to secure its strategic interests.

That itself should pave the road to greater economic and defence cooperation between the two countries and spur India on a higher growth track, according to BJP leaders.

Secondly, from a strategic point of view, Modi has shown that Obama may be seen as a “lame duck” US president back home because of recent setbacks his party suffered in the Congressional elections, but engaging Washington now is the “right time” as it is the most influential world power.

Thirdly, Modi is conveying a message to his political detractors within the country who are still upset over his Lok Sabha victory. They may not still “digest” the fact that he has become prime minister on a popular mandate but world leaders like Obama have acknowledged the change in India.

Also, Modi has shown that he has completely put behind the issue of denial of visa to him by successive US administrations citing the 2002 riots in Gujarat. In fact, the BJP leaders point to Obama’s first statement to make up for his country’s policy towards Modi soon after the Lok Sabha results. Even before Modi was sworn in as prime minister, Obama had telephoned him to convey that he was looking forward to work closely with the new government. The statement was a departure from the US’s stand on granting visa to Modi. 

The ice was further broken when Modi went to the US in September. Obama hosted a private dinner for Modi at the White House. As a special gesture, Obama accompanied Modi on a Martin Luther King Memorial visit, which was totally unplanned.

As a proof of rapport developing between the two leaders, Obama praised Modi by referring to him as a “man of action” during a dinner hosted for the leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and East Asia Summit (EAS) member countries in Nay Pyi Taw recently.

On Saturday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan termed Obama’s decision to accept Modi’s invite as “true celebration of people’s power.”

The BJP too said the way Modi had invited the US president for the January 26, 2015 celebration is a diplomatic breakthrough as far the Indo-US ties are concerned.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said: “India and America are the two most vibrant democracies of the world. And such a scenario, when they come together to celebrate democracy, is something that sends strong message not only in India but across the globe.”

BJP leader G V L Narsimha Rao said Obama has made special gestures in acknowledgement of Modi’s stature on the world stage.

Reflecting his party leaders’ perception, Rao said: “Modi deserves congratulations for becoming a global leader and putting India once again on the international stage and emerging as a top leader on the global platform.”

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