Political parties open arms for Devyani Khobragade at centre of US row

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Devyani Khobragade (AP) Devyani Khobragade (AP)
SummaryIndian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, heading home from the United States after she was indicted for visa fraud in a case that has strained bilateral ties, could have a political career for the asking.

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, heading home from the United States after she was indicted for visa fraud in a case that has strained bilateral ties, could have a political career for the asking.

Ahead of national elections that must be held by May, parties are preparing to crown her as a hero in a case seen as standing up to the United States and, if she wanted, offer her a political career. It signals how the case has stirred nationalist feelings among many Indians.

There is no sign that Khobragade, 39, is considering politics. India's foreign ministry, which fully backed her in her month-long battle against U.S. prosecutors, has said she will be given a new assignment in New Delhi.

But one party based in her home state of Maharashtra said it would talk to her about running for parliament.

"We will be meeting her soon. She is an inspiration to the people of our country," said Mayur Borkar, the spokesman of the Republican Party of India. "We are going to offer her a ticket."

Another political group, the Samajwadi party which governs the big heartland state of Uttar Pradesh and is one of India's most important regional parties, has offered Khobragade a seat from the state even though she is an outsider.

"Whatever happened with her is condemnable," said Azam Khan, the state's urban development minister.

A federal grand jury in New York indicted deputy consul general Khobragade on Thursday for visa fraud and providing false statements about payments made to her domestic helper but the officer was allowed to leave the United States because of diplomatic immunity.

Her arrest last month set off protests in India amid disclosures she was handcuffed and strip-searched and demands from the government the case be dropped and an apology given.

A government official said that Khobragade had been transferred to New Delhi and suggested it was too early to determine the nature of her new assignment.

"Let us focus on her return. After her return, the government will think about further action," the official said.

Khobragade would have to quit the diplomatic service if she were to choose a political career. It is not unusual for government officials to enter politics, but most have done so after retirement.

Her father Uttam Khobragade, who has lobbied hard to build support, said Devyani was already in public life and that offers from political parties were common. But he added this was not the best time for

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