Modi divides Indian Americans

I.S. Saluja;

EDISON, NJ (TIP): Modi is coming to USA. He is coming to the United Nations. He is coming to New York and New Jersey. He is coming to the Gujaratis. That’s what it appears to be. Our Gujarati brethren, at least some leaders in the Gujarati community, appear to be giving this impression. They all claim Modi. They all want to grab Modi. That’s why there was a big fight at TV Asia Studios in Edison, New Jersey on July 12 where a meeting was convened to decide on giving a civic reception to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. A meeting was organized by OFBJP to discuss the civic reception to be accorded to Modi who will be visiting US in September 2014. More then 100 people belonging to different Indo-American groups, showed up. Hospitality first.

So, it was only after lunch was served that the meeting started. It started with the keynote speech by Bharat Barai, a man known to be close to Narendra Modi. The moment Barai introduced himself and was about to speak further, Ankur Vaidya, President of Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) started finger pointing him. He accused Barai of grabbing the event. He even asked for an authority letter from PMO to coordinate the event. There was utter chaos in the auditorium and people were heard asking for Ankur Vaidya to be thrown out of the meeting. Barai had come prepared; it appeared because he showed a letter from Prime Minister’s office that said Bharat Barai was authorized to organize a meeting to discuss a civic reception for the Prime Minister when he visited the USA in September, 2014.

In fact, the letter said Bharat Barai was appointed a coordinator for Modi’s USA trip. Ankur Vaidya and others from FIA continued to shout and did not allow Bharat Barai to speak. Shalabh Kumar (Shelly) from Chicago and FIA Chairman Ramesh Patel were among the people who created a scene. They called upon the Consul General Dyaneshwar Mulay to cancel the meeting until further notice. Raju Patel, President of Jersey City Traders Association said whoever will donate a million dollar can run the show. Shelly Kumar promptly offered to pay a million dollar if the event was handed over to him. He was shouted down and, it is reported that TV Asia Chairman H.R. Shah bluntly told him to get lost.

The OFBJP leaders, however, requested attendees to donate small amounts so that everyone could feel to be a part of the grand event. After all kinds of arguments, accusations and counter accusations, pandemonium and a warlike situation for 2 hours, FIA squad left just a little before the Consul General arrived at 4 P.M. The Consul General spoke to the gathering and clarified that the Prime Minister’s office had authorized Bharat Barai to coordinate the visit of the Prime Minister to the US and that Barai should be given all co-operation.

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The dust may have settled down for a while then. But there are people who are not happy to have Bharat Barai pocket all credit for the grand reception being contemplated for Modi. Divisions and jealousies are likely to vitiate the atmosphere and be a damper on the reception. People have also complained that leaders of the Gujarati community have lowered the scale and importance of the reception to a regional level whereas Modi is now the Prime Minister of India and people from all regions should be involved in the exercise. Only time will tell who wins and who loses, in the ultimate analysis.

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