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US scotches speculation, says no change in ‘visa to Modi’ policy

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The US on Wednesday scotched speculation that tomorrow’s meeting between its Ambassador Nancy Powell and Narendra Modi would lead to lifting of the visa ban on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, insisting there was no change in its nine-year old policy that came in the aftermath of 2002 Gujarat riots.

“When individuals apply for a visa, their applications are reviewed in accordance with US law and policy. This is not a reflection of any change…This is simply a meeting happening on the ground in India. It’s not a reflection of anything else than outreach to a broad range of officials,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.

Modi’s visa was revoked in 2005 under the provisions of a domestic law on the issue of “severe violations of religious freedom”.

In a sudden u-turn, the US yesterday signalled the end of its boycott of Modi when it sought and got permission for a meeting between Powell and Modi in Ahmedabad tomorrow.

The State Department sought to play down Powell’s meeting with Modi, saying it is part of increased engagement with Indian leaders and indicated that President Barack Obama may not have been involved in the decision to end the BJP leader’s boycott.

Washington also made it clear that it was not taking any position on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Justifying the meeting, Psaki said all relevant people required to take a decision were involved in the process.

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