Trump event should not become an extension of U.S. Presidential campaign: Congress

‘Extravagant welcome goes against the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi’

February 21, 2020 08:12 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 10:35 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Former Union Minister Anand Sharma addressing a press conference at AICC Headquarters in New Delhi on Friday.

Former Union Minister Anand Sharma addressing a press conference at AICC Headquarters in New Delhi on Friday.


The Namaste Trump mega event planned to welcome United States President Donald Trump in Ahmedabad should not become an extension of the U.S. Presidential campaign, the Congress said on Friday.

Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma described the visit as an important step in Indo-U.S. strategic partnership but maintained that the outcomes would determine its success.

Speaking to reporters at the party headquarters, Mr. Sharma raised concerns over the U.S.’s withdrawal of the General System of Preference (GSP) status to India; reduction in H1B visas; and settlement of social security deposits made by Indian professionals in the US.

‘Wrong precedents’

“This visit should not become an extension of the U.S. Presidential campaign for the Indian diaspora. We do not become an active party in the elections in another country. This mistake was made in Texas at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event and the Prime Minister ought to be careful as these are setting wrong precedents,” he said.


“We hope... our country will hear [of] enhancement of H1-B visas; restoration of GSP for India, which provides preferential market access for Indian produce to America; and also reversing the present association and recognising India as a developing country,” Mr. Sharma said.

He added, “There should be an agreement on the refund of the social security contributions that are regularly being made by Indian IT professionals over the years and they run into billions of dollars. These are outstanding issues.”

‘Arbitrary decisions’

“There have already been many arbitrary decisions which have affected our engagement with other strategic partners. We are a sovereign country and have the right to engage with our other partner countries on our terms,” he said.

The “extravagant and unprecedented welcome” that is being planned for Mr. Trump, said the Congress, goes against the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, whose 150 birth anniversary is being celebrated in the country.


Mr. Sharma also raised questions on the organisers of the ‘Namaste Trump’ event. “Is the U.S. President coming on the invite of the Nagrik Abhinandan Samiti? The government should desist from being hypocritical... The Prime Minister should openly say that Trump is his friend and he is making grand arrangements,” the Congress leader said.

Asked if the Congress had received an invitation for a meeting with the U.S. President, he said, “We have not received any invitation from the government’s side and neither from the U.S. If any invitation will come, then we will take a view on it.”

Box on Congress leadership question

A day after Shashi Tharoor tweeted to press for a “leadership election”, Congress leader Anand Sharma said the party has a President. In what appeared to be a snub to Mr. Thaoor without taking his name, Mr. Sharma said it was only the Congress Working Committee that could decide on such issues.

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