What PM Modi’s address to Congress in United States will actually change?
New Delhi, June 3: The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited by the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to address a joint session of Congress in the United States, on June 8, earlier this month. Notably, this will be the fourth visit of PM Modi to the US in last two years.
Even though the invite is a strong reminder of the vigorous ties amid the Washington and New Delhi, the actual significance lies somewhere else. It is said to be the concluding step in Prime Minister Modi’s political rehabilitation in the US.
Apparently, Speaker Ryan’s invitation is nothing more than a routine. Since 1984, each full-term Indian PM has made a speech in front of a joint session of Congress. And PM Modi will be the fifth one, after Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2005.
Thus, the PM Modi’s address to the Congress brings no surprise and could merely be seen in the line of past practice. But what it will change actually is the unsettled history surrounding Prime Minister Modi’s relationship with Washington.
In 2005, Congress, together with the State Department barred PM Modi from entering in the United States during his term as a chief minister of Gujarat. According to their allegations, Mr. Modi had failed to stop communal riots that engulfed his home state 3 years earlier. The riot took lives of over 1,000 people, commonly Muslims.
The officials of the US canceled his visa to the United States by enforcing an uncertain law passed by Congress in 1998. The law was projected towards holding overseas bureaucrats accountable for serious violations of religious liberty. Notably, Mr. Modi was the only foreign frontrunner to have ever been denied a visa under the rule.
In view of that, Mr. Modi was banned from entering the United States. It was almost a decade that the rule restricted him to apply for US Visa, while some in the Washington at that time was forecasting that Chief Minister Modi would one day become Prime Minister Modi.
On the other hand, after several Indian courts found no evidence of violation against Mr.Modi, other Western countries that had avoided him due to the same incident, progressed rapidly to improve bonds. In fact, they were also keen to build up commercial and financial ties with the man, extensively called as India’s most successful chief minister. His political star was strengthening rapidly.
But then again, just months before it was announced that Mr. Modi would become India’s next PM, US became quite flexible towards him. Yet, there was diminutive uncertainty that the United States would include the leader of the world’s largest democracy given India’s standing to the United States. However, questions over whether Washington would openly embrace the man it had rejected for so long continued. And after this trip of PM Modi, things would become a matter of past now.