one of the largest delegations to Vibrant Gujarat, including a few parliamentarians.
APCO was in similar controversy over promoting notorious Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev through a ‘Friends of Kazakhstan’ group earlier.
Lobbying disclosures made by APCO in the US show that it was in touch with Eni Falemavaga, a member of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific, on deals with Kazakhstan as well as Malaysia.
In March this year, it was Falemavaga who strongly appealed to the Committee on Foreign Affairs to open dialogue with Narendra Modi. While commenting on the post-Godhra 2002 riots, Falemavaga said: “The fact remains that... India’s Supreme Court has not found any evidence against CM Modi... The US should shift its attitude and extend a hand of friendship to Narendra Modi, just as the European Union and the UK are doing, given that Modi is the frontrunner among the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidates.”
Despite emails and calls, APCO did not respond to specific queries sent by The Sunday Express, including on Friends of Gujarat.
Apart from King, the global project management team of APCO for Vibrant Gujarat includes Gad Ben Ari (former media advisor to ex-Israel PM Yitzhak Rabin and ex-director general of the most powerful Jewish fund-raising organisation, Keren Hayesod); Philippe Maze-Sencier (he earlier worked with the European defence firm EADS and with the European Commission in Washington); and Barry Schumacher (senior director, APCO Worldwide, and one of the foremost Washington lobbyists).
Recently, Labour Friends of India, an outfit of the Labour Party in the UK, invited Modi to address the House of Commons. One of the lobbyists for Vibrant Gujarat working in the UK is Alex Bigham, political advisor to the Labour Party.
The new work order issued to APCO in December 2011 stated that “APCO Worldwide will promote VG 2013 Summit only internationally.” Besides, APCO was given additional responsibility of “supporting Gujarat as tourist destination” and “attracting case-studies endorsements from learning institutions”.
In October 2012, the Gujarat Solar Park, about which Narendra Modi talks often, was awarded 'Best Project of the Year — Medium Term Duration' by Project Management Institute (PMI), a global organisation with presence in over 185 countries, in one such ‘case-study endorsement’. APCO is also a lobbyist for PMI.