A former top American diplomat has said that United States "should now find ways to engage" with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is now the prime ministerial candidate of the main opposition party.
"It is very clear that Modi is (now) a national political figure, and not simply a regional figure. He would be the lead spokesperson for the BJP in this election. I think the United States should recognise that act and find ways to engage (with him)," Karl F Inderfurth, the former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs from 1997-2001, said.
A close watcher of political developments in India and an eminent American expert of India-US relationship, Inderfurth currently is the Senior Adviser and Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies of the prestigious think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
While Inderfurth maintained that it is for the US State Department to decide on its visa policy with regard to Modi, he insisted that in the light of the new development the Obama Administration should finds ways to engage with Modi.
"We have already seen a number of US delegations travelling to Gujarat meeting with the Chief Minister."
Referring to the upcoming general elections in India, he said the US should be "respectful of the process" and "recognise that an important segment of the Indian body politics" is now to be considered to be a prime ministerial candidate. "I think, they we have to take that into account."
"Now how that is played out, I leave that to the State Department," he said, adding that he and other Americans would be watching this election with great interest.
"In part because, I am hopeful that, after the election takes place, after the new government is formed, whichever party/coalition that it would be then be able to address many of the difficult issues being faced by India," he said.
Responding to the official US position for the past several months on no change in its visa policy with regard to Modi, Inderfurth said he would let the State Department speak for itself.
"I think, that the United States should recognise the role that Modi would