Monday, December 02, 2013

Modi finds support in non-voting US Congressman, is advised not to accept White House invite

By Our Representative
Eni Faleomavaega, 70-year-old non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives from American Samoa's At-large congressional distric -- among the first top US dignitaries to meet Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar way back in 2010 -- has advised Modi not to accept any invitation to visit US in case he becomes Prime Minister. Faleomavaega said, In case Modi becomes Prime Minister of India, he should decline a visit to the US “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”.
In a statement issued in Washington DC by Faleomavaega’s office says, “Ranking Member Eni Faleomavaega of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific – which has broad jurisdiction for US foreign policy affecting the region, including India – announced that he will not support House Resolution 417”, promulgated by two US Congressmen, one Democrat and another Republican, to continue denying visa to Modi (click HERE).
Faleomavaega said, “India is a multi-cultural and multi-religious democracy, where the leader of the ruling party is of Italian heritage, the Prime Minister is a Sikh and the vice president is a Muslim in an 80 per cent Hindu country. Chief Minister Modi is a democratically elected leader and has been elected three times by the majority of some 60 million constituents. He may well be India’s next Prime Minister and Resolutions like House Resolution 417 do little to help strengthen U.S.-India relations or protect and promote US interests abroad, especially in the Asia Pacific region”.
Saying that he commends the US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), which is an American bipartisan body representing the political views of the Indian-American community in the US, for working with key leaders in the US. House of Representatives to correct the misinformation put forward by House Resolution 417, Faleomavaega said, “I encourage my colleagues to re-think this non-binding Resolution and oppose Floor action of any kind.”
The resolution, said Faleomavaega, “purports to praise India's rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality while reaffirming the need to protect the rights and freedoms of religious minorities”, adding, “I have a difference of opinion regarding the Resolution and its unintended consequences. The Resolution does little to praise India or strengthen US-India relations but rather focuses on the 2002 Gujarat riots some 11 years after the fact.”
“Some eight years after the fact, the Resolution also commends the US government for exercising its authority in 2005 under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to deny a US visa to Narendra Modi on the grounds of religious freedom violations”, Faleomavaega said, adding, “Thanks, in part, to the efforts of USINPAC which has mobilized the Indian-American community in opposition to this Resolution, I highly doubt House Resolution 417 will ever see Floor action.”
Pointing out that “the timing of the Resolution is unfortunate as it unintentionally invokes the name of the US House of Representatives for purposes of influencing India’s upcoming elections”, Faleomavaega said, “For this reason, I feel the need to speak out and reiterate what I am on record as saying shortly after the riots and ever since. Like any other member of Congress committed to human rights, I see eye to eye with the national and international community that what happened in Gujarat calls for justice and accountability”.
He added, “But India, like the United States, has an independent and transparent judiciary and, after an investigation that has been ongoing for more than a decade, India’s Supreme Court and its special investigation team have not found any evidence against chief minister Narendra Modi. This is why I believe the US should 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.”
“As for the US denying Modi a visa in 2005, which House Resolution 417 commends, enough is enough. On July 23, 2013, I wrote U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and called upon him to lift the travel ban, although technically no travel ban is in place. Visa eligibility is determined by standards in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), based on information provided by the applicant or otherwise available at the time of application. Consequently, in the words of the State Department, eligibility cannot be determined prior to application”, he said.
“While I believe such a response by the State Department is grossly inadequate and an affront to US-India relations, I was informed that ‘any future visa application put forward by Chief Minister Modi will be carefully considered and adjudicated in accordance with US law.’ In my opinion, 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”, he said. 

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