NEW DELHI (TIP): A controversy broke out on July 24 over a letter, said to have been written to the United States President Barack Obama by 64 Members of Parliament, urging him to adhere to the current policy of denying visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Many parliamentarians claim that their signatures on the letter were forged. For instance, M.P. Achutan, a CPI MP, and Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) have denied signing any letter to the U.S. President.

The letter is being seen as an instrument to blunt the effort of BJP president Rajnath Singh, who is now in the U.S., to persuade Washington to lift the ban on Mr. Modi’s travel there. The U.S. has denied Modi a visa, citing “the violation of religious freedoms’’ in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat during his first term as Chief Minister.While BJP MP from Jharkhand, Sudarshan Bhagat, wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, seeking a probe into alleged forgery of signatures, the main Opposition party found fault with the Congress, accusing it to be behind the entire “letter affair’’ and demanded a probe.

However, Independent MP Mohammad Adeeb, who is stated to have taken the initiative for the anti-Modi campaign, has vouched for the authenticity of the letter. Stating that he welcomed an inquiry, he said, “Anyone found guilty of cheating colleagues should be punished and removed from Parliament.’’ Adeeb maintained that by re-sending the letter to the White House, he hoped to stultify the effort of the BJP chief to lobby for an end to the ban on Modi’s travel to America.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said since many MPs denied writing such a letter, it was important to catch those who forged signatures. Denial by some MPs of having written to Mr. Obama showed that this was a “clear conspiracy of the dirty tricks department of the Congress.’’ He demanded a thorough probe.

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