State Dept relents on Modi visa issue

Congressman Joe Walsh (third from right) with Indian community activists

CHICAGO: Congressman Joe Walsh hailed the decision by the State Department to allow Indian Minister Narendra Modi to apply for a diplomatic visa to the United States as a great victory for the Indiana American community in the 8th District and across the country.
Congressman Walsh has been an outspoken leader on this issue, even writing two letters to Secretary Hillary Clinton this past spring and summer urging her to reverse its decade-long ban on visa to Narendra Modi. Since the 2002 post-Godhra riots, the US has refused to give a diplomatic visa to Modi, a senior BJP leader. BJP is India’s main opposition party.
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake announced that Modi “is free to apply for another visa whenever he chooses and the system will take its course.” This comes a week after the United Kingdom softened its stance toward Modi.
“This is a great victory for Indian Americans,” said Congressman Walsh. “I am pleased that my efforts urging the State Department to lift its visa-ban on Modi were successful. He has been recognized across the world for establishing Gujarat as one of the most business-friendly states in India. In our own trying economic times, we could learn a great deal from him.”
In contrast to Walsh’s leadership on this issue, his opponent, Tammy Duckworth tried to politicize the issue when she sent out a press release, which essentially called Modi a terrorist who is responsible for genocide. To which Walsh said, “Once again, my opponent is on the wrong side of the issue. With the State Department’s move, Ms. Duckworth now holds a position that is so out of the mainstream that even the State Department disagrees with her. Just last week Ms. Duckworth referred to Modi as a ‘violator of religious freedoms and an instigator of violence’ without any evidence to support the claim. It’s time for Ms. Duckworth to apologize to the Indian American community in the district for slandering one of India’s most successful public officials.”

Vandana Jhingan

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