US-India Relations Modified as Modi Becomes the New Indian Prime Minister

US President Barack Obama readies to listen to new Indian Prime Minister Narendra

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Washington, DC – The political pundits and doyens of diplomatic world are expecting a boost in the economic relationship between the US and India as a smooth transition takes place in the corridors of power in New Delhi.

With the landslide win of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the world’s largest democratic elections, US President Barack Obama started the ball rolling to mend relations with the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was ostrastracized by the US after the Gujarat riots of 2002.

In a congratulatory phone call, President Obama noted he looked forward to, “working closely with Modi to fulfill the extraordinary promise of the US-India strategic partnership”

According to a White House readout of the call the two leaders, “agreed to continue expanding and deepening the wide-ranging cooperation between our two democracies. The President invited Narendra Modi to visit Washington at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen our bilateral relationship.”

The hiccup is the decade old pariah status meted out to Modi, post Gujarat riots in 2002, when in 2005 the US State Department used domestic laws to scrap Modi’s visa saying that the Gujarat chief minister was, “responsible for the (lack of) performance of state institutions” during the communal riots in his state.

The allegations, which were never nodded along by any domestic court or other investigating bodies in India, stated that Modi turned a blind eye to the riots, that killed hundreds of people, mostly Muslims. Over the years, Modi has denied any wrongdoing and an Indian Supreme Court monitored investigation cleared him of any charges of complicity.

There was, however, an evident change in the US policy when the outgoing US ambassador Nancy Powell met Modi in February earlier this year but the sources witnessing the meeting called it cold and Powell retired from active duty immediately afterwards.

With the US yet to even name a replacement for Powell, the State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told journalists at the daily briefing on Monday (May 19), “We have a very important strategic relationship, there are a range of officials that interact with the government depending on the issue, whether it’s the economic counselor or the political counselor, communications officials – so I expect there will be a range of officials who will be in touch with the new government and be working with them.”

Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, a veteran US diplomat and former ambassador to India, told India America Today, “The US – Indian relationship is of the utmost importance to both countries. It is essential our two leaders get off to a strong start and not look back. president Obama has called to extend good wishes to Narendra Modi,” noting, “I am persuaded the latter will reciprocate. Too much is at stake,”

Echoing Wisner’s sentiments, the US-India Business Council, USIBC Chairman Ajay Banga, President and CEO, MasterCard said, “Both the US and India have deep pools of entrepreneurial talent and energy, and both countries need to stimulate economic growth and create new jobs. This requires a forward-looking partnership between these two great democracies.”

The White House made it clear that the new Indian prime minister is welcome to the US. Jay Carney, the White House spokesman told journalists, “The Prime Minister of India will receive a visa to travel to the United States. We look forward to working with the new government and the new Prime Minister, and we congratulate Mr. Modi and his party on their victory. I don’t anticipate any problem in that regard.”

On a positive note, Carney concluded, “What we do anticipate is moving forward with the new government and strengthening a relationship that has already been strengthened significantly over the past years with Prime Minister Singh at the helm in India.”

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