The U.S. on Saturday remained non-committal on granting a visa to Narendra Modi who has been named BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, saying there was no change in its longstanding visa policy.
Mr. Modi, denied a visa in 2005 on the ground of alleged human rights violations after the 2002 riots in Gujarat, can apply like any other applicant and have his case reviewed under American laws, said State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.
Ms. Harf was asked at a news briefing whether there was a change in U.S. policy after Mr. Modi was named the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate on Friday.
“As to the specific case, there’s no change in our longstanding visa policy. With regard to the Chief Minister, he is welcome to apply for a visa and await a review like any other applicant,” she said.
“That review will be, of course, grounded in U.S. law. And I just am not going to speculate about what the outcome of that review might be,” Ms. Harf said.
In 2005, Mr. Modi was denied a diplomatic visa and his existing tourist and business visa was revoked under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes a foreign government official responsible for severe violations of religious freedom ineligible for a travel document.
Ms. Harf refused to comment on the BJP’s decision to name Mr. Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, saying it was a domestic issue.
“I’m not going to comment on domestic Indian politics. These are decisions for the Indian people to make, certainly not for me to make judgements on one way or the other,” she said.
Asked about the U.S. “always” engaging with opposition parties and leaders of other countries, Ms. Harf said, “I would take a little issue with ‘always’ engaging with folks. If we have anything new to update for you, we will.”
During a recent visit to the U.S., BJP president Rajnath Singh said he would request a review of the visa ban on Mr. Modi.
Britain has warmed up to Mr. Modi with Opposition Labour party MP Barry Gardiner sending the Gujarat Chief Minister a letter last month inviting him to the House of Commons to speak on “The Future of Modern India”.