Yet another bad news to Modi’s rivals

published on April 18, 2010

Modi free to travel, EU tells MEA
Nirmala Ganapathy,ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s rivals, who want him to be “blacklisted”, have some bad news. The ministry of external affairs, which issued a demarche to the European Union representative here over reports of a “ban” on the chief minister from travelling to European Union countries, has been told by the EU that no such restriction exists. India’s embassy in Brussels had also conveyed the absence of an EU directive to the headquarters.

The issue was flagged off again by a delegation of German parliamentarians whose “provocative’’ remarks against the Gujarat chief minister sparked off protests by BJP early this week. The delegation of two MPs, including a member from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), part of the ruling coalition in Germany, had allegedly said during a trip to Ahmedabad that Mr Modi was “persona non-grata” in the European Union countries and that Germany also supported the denial of visa to Mr Modi over the 2002 riots. The Geman lawmakers, whose visit was supported by a Christian Catholic Bishops Agency, had further criticised Mr Modi in connection with Gujarat’s new anti-conversion law and had allegedly described Mr Modi as a “dictator’’ Following these remarks, Gujarat chief minister had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to take up the matter with the German ambassador.

The ministry of external affairs, which has already got an update from the EU on there being no ban on Mr Modi travelling to EU countries, looked into the visit of the parliamentary delegation and discovered that the MPs travelled to India on a tourist visa. The MEA was further told by the German embassy that the parliamentarians were in India in their personal capacity and had not intimated the embassy about their travels plans.

The embassy has been keen to distance itself from the remarks of the delegation and had pointed out that “German parliamentarians travel freely and speak on their own behalf.’’ A German embassy press release further said that a high-ranking BJP delegation had voiced concerns and handed over a memorandum about the recent comments allegedly made by two German Members of Parliament. The embassy, which distanced itself from the remarks of the parliamentarians, assured the delegation that their requests would be conveyed to the German Bundestag and the concerned MPs. Mr Modi in his letter had further sought an apology from the delegation members or a clarification on their remarks.

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