BJP’s prime ministerial candidate moots new role for States in external affairs

The country’s foreign policy has to be driven by people, not by politicians sitting in New Delhi, Gujarat Chief Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, said on Friday.

Asserting that “India is not just New Delhi,” Mr. Modi wondered why bilateral or international conferences and summits should not be held in States. Giving a hypothetical example, he said that if and when the Prime Minister of Britain visited India next, all his official meetings need not be held in New Delhi. Instead, Chennai should be allowed to host the visit.

This would provide to the bureaucracy of Tamil Nadu much-needed exposure and there would be capacity building in the State.

Delivering the Nani Palkhivala memorial lecture at a function organised here by the Palkhivala Foundation, Mr Modi said cultural and economic advantages of States had to be leveraged in building the country’s position among the comity of nations.

Pointing out that his State had entered into partnership with Japan and Canada, he mooted a new role for States in external affairs and suggested that each State be allowed to have partnership with one country.

His lecture created high expectations, but the event turned out to be a modest affair.

The University Centenary Auditorium, which was the venue of the lecture, had several empty seats, possibly because many invitees could not make it to the venue, thinking that they had to go through tight security arrangements.

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