Cancellation would be the most "appropriate in the light of reactions of the multiple stakeholders involved", Wharton India Economic Forum said.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s keynote address at the prestigious Wharton India Economic Forum later this month was cancelled on Sunday under pressure from multiple stakeholders.
“We do not endorse any political views and do not support any specific ideology. Our goal as a team is only to stimulate valuable dialogue on India’s growth story,” the Forum said in a statement.
Mr. Modi was invited to deliver the keynote address at the Forum to be held in Philadelphia on March 22-23 via videoconference.
“As it stands currently, Mr. Modi’s keynote address at Wharton India Economic Forum has been cancelled,” the statement said.
The Forum is an annual student-run India-centric conference hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In its statement, the Forum said the student body was extremely impressed with Modi’s credentials, governance ideologies, and leadership, which was the primary reason for his invitation.
“However, as a responsible student body within the University of Pennsylvania, we must consider the impact on multiple stakeholders in our ecosystem,” it said.
The Forum said even as it stood by its decision to invite Mr. Modi, “we believe that this course of action (of cancelling his address) would be the most appropriate in the light of reactions of the multiple stakeholders involved.”
“Therefore, we as a team, would like to apologise for being a catalyst may have put Mr.Modi and the Wharton School administration ia difficult position,” the Forum said.
The Forum said it hoped to have Mr. Modi speak at a “more appropriate forum where he can interact with students without the distraction of this kind of attention“.
The Forum said it was in the last stages of finalising an additional keynote address that will be delivered by a very prominent Indian leader and it will be announced very soon.
Since its inception in 1996, the meet has emerged as one of the largest and most prestigious India-focused business conferences that provides a platform for leaders to discuss the opportunities present in India and the challenges that need to be addressed.
Among other eminent invited guests to the conference include Milind Deora, the Union Minister of State for IT and Communications; Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group; actress Shabana Azmi, poet and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar.
Earlier keynote speakers have included former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, BJP leader Varun Gandhi and industrialist Anil Ambani.