News / Asia

US Ends Boycott of Indian Opposition Leader

Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi (R) presents a bouquet of flowers to US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell (L) as they meet in Gandhinagar in western Gujarat st
Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi (R) presents a bouquet of flowers to US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell (L) as they meet in Gandhinagar in western Gujarat st
Anjana Pasricha
The U.S. Ambassador to India has met Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi, ending a near decade-long boycott of the man who is the frontrunner to be India’s next prime minister. The Hindu nationalist leader was denied a U.S. visa in 2005 over his role in sectarian violence which swept his state in 2002.
Television pictures showed U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi exchanging a cordial handshake before they sat down for discussions Thursday in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat state headed by the Indian opposition leader.
Political analysts said the handshake was prompted by the possibility that Modi could head India’s next government. He is the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition B.J.P., which polls show could dislodge the Congress party in upcoming national elections, to be held by May.
The U.S. was among several countries which shunned the B.J.P. leader over allegations that he did not do enough to stop riots which swept through Gujarat in 2002 and killed nearly 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.
Modi denies the accusations. The Supreme Court has found no evidence to prosecute him.    
As he grew in prominence on India’s national political stage in the last year, other countries and international bodies, including the European Union and Australia, restored ties with him. 
Former Indian ambassador to the United States Lalit Mansingh said the U.S. was bound to follow suit. 
“It would be quite embarrassing for the Americans not to recognize a democratically elected leader. One is not saying whether he will be elected or not, but it would lead to a peculiar situation, which I think the Americans were keen to avoid,” said Mansingh.
The U.S. revoked Modi’s visa in 2005 under a domestic law that bars foreign officials responsible for "severe violations of religious freedom.”
The thorny visa issue was apparently not discussed, but political analysts said the meeting signals that the U.S. would be willing to issue one.
The U.S. embassy did not comment. It called the meeting part of its outreach to senior leaders of India’s major political parties in advance of the upcoming elections. The embassy also pointed out that Ambassador Nancy Powell continues to emphasize that the U.S.-India partnership is important and strategic.
Political analysts think the long boycott of Modi by the U.S. is unlikely to damage ties between the two countries if the BJP were to come to power.
Mansingh pointed out that Modi has strong support from many people from his Gujarat state living in the United States, who want to see a strong relationship.
“The B.J.P. of all parties has a pretty strong network abroad, particularly in the United States, and there is a large thriving Gujarati community in the U.S., I take it most of them are B.J.P. supporters, so I don’t think this will have any impact on bilateral ties,” said Mansingh.  
Throughout his election campaign, Modi has drawn huge crowds. He has sought to portray himself as a strong leader who can make India more economically vibrant and provide good governance in a country fed up with the many corruption scandals that have marred the Congress party-led government.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs