pankajs wrote:Pressure grows on Obama administration to reach out to ModiWASHINGTON: A prominent American analyst and veteran South Asia hand has aligned with the growing sentiment in Washington DC that the US administration should engage the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, regardless of the outcome of elections in India.
In a brief on the BJP's strong showing in the just concluded assembly polls, Teresita Schaffer, a former state department mandarin, policy wonk, and a senior fellow at Brookings Institutions, says while it is too early to forecast the outcome of the 2014 polls, "the US cannot afford to continue restricting its contacts with a politician of Modi's importance to a relatively low level."
Pointing out that the US had limited its official contact with Modi "even after ambassadors of other major powers had opened dialogues with him", Schaffer said normal US practice is to maintain contact across the political spectrum, unless there is some overwhelming reason not to — members of listed terrorist organizations, for example. Only the US consul general in Mumbai, whose consular jurisdiction includes Gujarat, has met Modi so far.
"Controversy about the nature and level of contacts with opposition figures is not unusual in the diplomatic world," Schaffer, a longtime South Asia expert, writes, adding, with respect to Modi, that "the longer a self-imposed ban remains in place, the more complicated and embarrassing it is to change it."
Schaffer's reasoning mirrors the growing sentiment on the Hill where some lawmakers are pressing the administration to reach out to Modi.
Eni Faleomavega, a ranking House member of the South Asia subcommittee recently called on the Obama administration to "shift its attitude and engage in dialogue with Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, just as the European Union and the UK are doing, and many other nations around the world.'' "Chief minister Modi is a democratically elected leader and has been elected 3 times by the majority of some 60 million constituents. He may well be India's next Prime Minister and Resolutions like H.R 417 (which praises the administration for banning Modi) do little to help strengthen US-India relations," says Faleomavega.
Pillorying the state department for succumbing to pressure from anti-Modi lobbies, he went as far as suggesting "should chief minister Narendra Modi become India's next Prime Minister, he should decline a visit to the United States unless the State Department takes a stand now and informs him in advance of whether or not a visa would be granted should he apply."
Schaffer and others in the thinktank community steer clear of the politics behind Foggy Bottom's no-contact policy, but there is a growing feeling that the state department is taking an unreasonably cussed stand on the issue. On their part, US officials say in private conversations that any decision on Modi at this point will add the controversy and will be instantly politicized in India, and they would rather have a status quo. In any case, they have indicated, if Modi does become Prime Minister, the visa ban will become infructuous because heads of government are entitled to diplomatic privileges.
The UPA government has also steered clear of the issue. On Tuesday, India's foreign secretary Sujatha Singh held talks with a state department team led by secretary of state John Kerry with the conversation centering mainly on regional issues, including the US drawdown from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Modi should make the countries that have boycotted him sweat.
I am hearing that only NaMo's lower level minions interact with the official US machinery in India. He does not himself talk with or even receive any of the US embassy or consulate guys unlike with other consular or diplomatic representatives in India.
US trade delegations are another matter and he interacts personally with them all.