The controversy surrounding the alleged authorisation to the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States to spy on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2010 seems to be overshadowing Senator John McCain’s visit to India.
As the U.S. Senator began his string of calls in the capital, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned two senior U.S. diplomats and sought a response on the incident, which came to light following fresh revelations from classified documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The latest revelations appeared in The Washington Post , which reported that apart from the BJP, the NSA spied on the Pakistan People’s Party, Lebanon’s Hezbollah-allied group Amal, and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in 2010.
With the fallout of the snooping magnifying during the day, Senator McCain on Wednesday cancelled his planned press conference outside the MEA office.
The Snowden revelations seemed to revive the memory of the spat between India and the U.S. following the December arrest in New York of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat.
Mr. McCain has been an advocate of India-U.S. economic and military partnership. He represents the state of Arizona — a strong base of the U.S. defence industry, which includes iconic names such as Boeing and Raytheon.
The Senator’s visit was expected to set the tone for the forthcoming visit to India of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
In his regular media briefing, MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said if “such intrusions [by the U.S.] have indeed been ‘authorised’ and have taken place, it is highly objectionable.”