A Big Game And A Big Player

Bharatiya Janata Party President Rajnath Singh flew in to New York last week on a five day visit of the U.S. The purpose, said Singh was twofold. One, to meet and interact with the Indian diaspora; and, two, to meet with the U.S. lawmakers, policymakers and business community.

What did Rajnath Singh want to discuss with the U.S. lawmakers and policymakers? Whatever else it may have been, one of the issues top on his agenda was to lobby with them for a Visa to Modi. Shalli Kumar, a Republican from Chicago is said to have been actively involved in arranging meetings between Rajnath Singh and Republican Senators and Congressmen to firm up support for a Visa to Modi. Shalli Kumar had only a few weeks ago taken to Gujarat a delegation of Republican Senators and Congressmen who were received warmly by Modi.

The delegation had felt pleased with Modi and the state of Gujarat which has made tremendous progress under Modi. The Republican delegation is reported to have then assured of their support for Visa to Modi. Rajnath Singh’s visit must be looked in to proper perspective. It was primarily meant to garner support for a Visa to Modi. And secondly, it was to carry a message in the US corridors of power that the BJP was on way to succeed the Congress led UPA government.

The BJP wanted to create that impression emphatically and who more competent than the President of the party himself. The question is why a Visa to Modi is so important? Why a sense of urgency that the BJP president himself had to dash to Washington? The answer is not that complicated. The BJP is keen that Modi visit the U.S. now and as early as possible, before the elections, to earn legitimacy for himself.

The cases relating to state violence against people of one community and fake encounters in which many were killed, at the behest of people in the Modi government, seem to stretch on.With that the needle of suspicion keeps pointing to Modi and his cohorts. It may take quite some time before they come out clean or are penalized. The BJP wants the U.S. to give Modi a Visa which will then be interpreted as U.S. acknowledging that Modi is innocent.

That is why there is this sense of hurry. Visa to Modi in the year 2005 was declined under 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act under which foreign government officials are considered ineligible for a visa should the State Department view them as “responsible for, or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

In April, 2012, when the question of Visa to Modi was raised by U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh, Republican of Illinois, in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, regarding whether the U.S.’s 2005 decision to not to issue Mr. Modi a visa would be reviewed, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland had clarified in a press conference that there was no change in its decision to deny Mr. Modi a visa to enter the country.

However, it is a general perception that the decision can be reviewed if there is any change in the circumstances. And the BJP is keen to get Modi a Visa so that it can claim the U.S. recognized the change in circumstances, which here means that the U.S. does not any more consider Modi guilty of any violation of religious freedom. Again, it is interesting to note how much money and effort are being put in to securing a visa for Modi. It is no small game. It is a big one, really big.


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