The Congress on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of bypassing a “time-honoured convention” of not interfering in the domestic elections of another country by “actively campaigning” for U.S. President Donald Trump at the ‘HowdyModi!’ event in Houston.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said India should not be seen to be taking sides and Prime Minister Modi should have avoided the slogan “ Ab ki baar Trump sarkar (Trump presidency this time again)”.
“We have a strategic partnership between India and the United States of America which is bipartisan, which we fully endorse. But, there is a time-honoured convention of India’s foreign policy that when we engage with the foreign governments or the President or Prime Minister when on foreign soil, we do not take part in the domestic electoral politics,” Mr. Sharma said.
“We wish the Prime Minister for his visit. We hope that President Trump would appreciate the Indian diaspora greeting him when the Prime Minister was there. But, we hope the Prime Minister would get President Trump to agree to restore all the cuts on H-1B visas, reduce the fees and again restore the Generalized System of Preferences so that Indian exports can get access to the U.S. markets,” he added.
Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, currently in Tihar jail on charges of alleged corruption, responded sarcastically to Mr. Modi’s “Everything is fine in India” remark.
“ Bharat mai sab achha hai . Except for unemployment, loss of existing jobs, lower wages, mob violence, lockdown in Kashmir and throwing Opposition leaders in prison,” Mr. Chidambaram tweeted through his family.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh referred to U.S. House majority leader Democrat Steny Hoyer’s reference to Mahatma Gandhi and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in his speech.
“I'm glad that PM Modi was reminded of the contributions of Nehru by the House Majority Leader in Houston,” Mr. Ramesh said.
Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Modi over Mr. Hoyers remarks, Congress MP Abhishek Singhvi said, “It was absolutely unexpected for Modi ji . While the achievements of Nehru ji and Gandhi ji were being mentioned, his (Modi's) expressions were worth seeing,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Congress leader Milind Deora, however, said Mr. Modi’s address was a momentous first for India’s soft power diplomacy.