In a strong response to criticism from U.S. Democrat leader Bernie Sanders , a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader threatened that the ruling party would be “compelled” to wade into U.S. Presidential elections. The tweet, which was later deleted without further comment, threatens to pit the ruling party against the opposition Democrats in the upcoming election, much as BJP-allied groups in the U.K. were accused of campaigning against the Opposition Labour Party in the elections in December.
“How much ever neutral we wish to be, you compel us to play a role in Presidential elections,” wrote B.L. Santosh, the BJP’s general secretary in charge of organisation on Twitter on Thursday morning. “Sorry to say so…But you are compelling us,” he added.
Mr. Santosh was reacting to a tweet by Mr. Sanders, who had called U.S. President Donald Trump’s response to the violence sparked by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) “a failure of leadership.”
“Over 200 million Muslims call India home. Widespread anti-Muslim mob violence has killed at least 27 and injured many more. Trump responds by saying, “That’s up to India. This is a failure of human rights,” Mr. Sanders said.
In answer to a question on the violence at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said that he would “leave it to India” to deal with the CAA and the protests , adding that he had not discussed the violence in Delhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr. Sanders has criticised Mr. Modi on several occasions, including writing an op-ed that appeared in the Houston Chronicle on the day of the previous Trump-Modi joint rally, “ Howdy Modi ” in Houston last September, where he had referred to the U.S.’s “deafening silence on Kashmir”.
Earlier this week, Mr. Sanders’ Foreign Policy adviser Indian-American Representative Ro Khanna had also said that while India remained an important strategic ally, the “India that has captured the imagination of the world, and the world respects, is the India of 1947, an India shaped by Gandhi and Nehru. It’s not the India of the eleventh century. Any effort to undermine India’s conception as a pluralistic democracy and go back to the medieval ages will not be in India’s interest.”
The Modi government has also expressed its disapproval of the Democrat leader Pramila Jayapal’s decision to bring a U.S. Congress Resolution on Kashmir last year, and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had refused to attend a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting as she had been invited as well. Ms. Jayapal’s resolution now has 62 co-sponsors, including 5 Republicans, but has not yet been brought for a vote.
Last year, The Hinduhad reported that the British government had formally “expressed its concerns” to the Ministry of External Affairs and to the BJP’s Foreign Affairs Cell about comments made by a leader affiliated to the BJP calling for British-Indians to vote for the Conservative Party, and against the Labour Party for its resolution criticising the decision to nullify Article 370.
At the time, Ministry of External Affairs sources had said that the “Election is an internal matter of U.K. People who voted in the elections are all U.K. nationals. We do not wish to get involved as to which section of their population is supporting whom.”