US Secretary of State John Kerry has refused to comment on the issue of granting visa to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, saying his comments may have a "play" in the upcoming general elections in India.
Responding to a question on the visa issue from Congressman George Holding, Kerry said: "I am not going to comment on that part of it, if you do not mind, simply because it is before the election and I do not want anything I say here to have any play into the election in any way that it should or should not."
During a Congressional hearing Holding said: "Within a month or so almost 800 million people are going to go to the polls and choose a new government in India. The Wall Street Journal recently said that the Congress Party will suffer more than likely an overwhelming defeat, and more than likely the BJP party will form a government with Narendra Modi at the head of it."
"What are you doing to put us at a good place in our relations with India, with the BJP government? And how much do you think we will have as a setback the issue with Modi's visa status and us denying a visa to him? And where do you see that we sit with that right now?" Holding had asked.
Kerry described relations with India as very vital for the region and the world.
"It (India-US) is a very important relationship. (India is) a very, very vital country in terms of the region and globally. And we need to... We have big issues to work on together," Kerry said.
"We respect that democracy, respect India. We have worked hard to get over the hiccup we had recently with respect to a diplomat in New York. Our Assistant Secretary (of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal) has just returned from a trip to India," he said.
"We are very, very anxious. It is a very important relationship," Kerry said. PTI LKJ † ABH 03140752