Narendra Modi forgets US boycott willing to be wooed by ambassador Nancy Powell

Written by PTI | New Delhi/Washington | Updated: Feb 12 2014, 01:20am hrs
ModiUS Ambassador to India Nancy Powell is meeting Narendra Modi on Thursday in Gandhinagar.
Signalling nine years of boycott of Narendra Modi in the aftermath of post-Godhra Gujarat riots, US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell is meeting Chief Minister on Thursday in Gandhinagar.

The US move marks a u-turn in its earlier stand of having nothing to do with Narendra Modi, whose visa it cancelled in 2005 under a domestic law on the issue of "severe violations of religious freedom". Ever since it had refused to review its policy.

Powell apparently wants to discuss with the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi issues related to the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and his vision for the country, sources said.

They said the Ambassador's request for meeting has been accepted by Narendra Modi and exact time and date are being firmed up.

"Most likely, the meeting will take place on Thursday February 13," a source said.

Before Powell's formal request, the US Embassy officials recently held a meeting with some senior officials of Gujarat government, during which the 2002 riots issue is believed to have been discussed among other subjects.

That interaction apparently set the stage for the meeting between Powell and 63-year-old Narendra Modi.

In Washington, a US State Department spokesman said, "We can confirm the appointment (between Narendra Modi and Powell)."

"This is part of our concerted outreach to senior political and business leaders which began in November to highlight the US-India relationship," the spokesperson said.

The go-ahead, just before the announcement of general elections in a few weeks from now, seems to have been taken after intensive debate within the various wings of the Obama Administration -- the White House and the State Department in particular -- with crucial inputs from the members of the Congress, and the influential leaders of the corporate sector, the US India Business Council in particular.

In the past few weeks, a series of public meetings organised by influential think tanks here have had concluded that the BJP-led by Narendra Modi was currently headed to win the upcoming general elections and the US needs to review its policy to do business with him.