Modi's US visit disappointing on outcomes: Congress

 Congress today launched an all-out attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his US visit was "disappointing" on outcomes and claimed that an atmosphere of a grand event was created with the help of "cheerleaders" many of whom brought from India.

New Delhi: Congress today launched an all-out attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his US visit was "disappointing" on outcomes and claimed that an atmosphere of a grand event was created with the help of "cheerleaders" many of whom brought from India.

Accusing the Prime Minister of "hurting" the dignity of the post by "belittling" previous Indian governments on a foreign soil, party spokesperson Anand Sharma said it is a matter of concern for any political party or the nation if someone believes everything good for the nation has happened only during his time.

"We wonder whether he had gone there on an election campaign or he was suddenly reminded of his Parliamentary constituency Varanasi," he said, adding that Modi spoke during the visit as if he was still in "campaign mode".

Sharma also attacked him for "withdrawing", ahead of his US visit, an order which empowered the drug pricing authority of powers to cap prices of non-essential drugs and then during his visit deciding to set up, in collaboration with the US, a high-level working group on intellectual property to sort out issues which have been hampering investments.

On the latter, he alleged that the Prime Minister has "compromised" India's position and the issue cannot be revisited in a bilateral grouping.

Refusing to give any importance to the rapturous gathering during the Prime Minister's address at Madison Square Garden and elsewhere outside the venues of his address in the US, Sharma said, "There were many cheerleaders".

He gave the credit for the gathering at the Garden to the performance by well-known artistes and singers there.

Seeking to compare it with Modi's address at the UN General Assembly, the Congress spokesperson claimed that "two-third of the Assembly hall was empty when the Indian Prime Minister was speaking. This small gathering should be a matter of concern."

He also said all Indian Prime Ministers, who went to the US were given the honour of addressing the joint session of US Congress but "Modi was not given this honour" asking "why?".

Sharma said the visit was not so impressive as was projected and quoted BJP patriarch L K Advani to conclude that Modi is a very good "event-manager".

Sharma said that it was expected that there will be some concrete decision on signing the Indo-US nuclear agreement and that the issue of H1 B visa will be resolved besides the issue of totalisation agreement.

"Nothing was done. The Prime Minister's visit was disappointing. Nothing happened, which brought any new turn in the Indo-US relations...When you look at the outcomes, it is definitely disappointing," he said.

Sharma rued that despite this an atmospherics was created in which even the matured ones including some seniors in the media were "misled" with the "repackaged, re-branded campaign" of things already done.

He said that there were 18,000 people at the Madison Square Garden and "they were not poor. They had booked seats at 5000 to 10,000 USD per seat....Who will not come if you have the best of artistes, dancers and musicians from India performing?".

"To have a gathering of 18,000 people is no big thing, when 3 million people of Indian origin live in the US, when definitely a sizeable population of cheerleaders went from India."

Asked whether he has information on how many cheerleaders were taken from India and who they were, he asked the media to probe it and find out who went from here to the US and what class of air travel did they take up during the visit.

Seeking to counter the investment pitch of the Modi government, the former Commerce Minister said, "Our currency has become volatile. Rupee has fallen by two rupees against the dollar since the change of the new government. That is a matter of concern. Why it is happening if some much foreign exchange is coming."

The Congress spokesperson said the good thing was that the BJP Prime Minister is now showing "interest" in the Indo-US Nuclear agreement signed during the UPA but reminded him that "while UPA's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had staked his government for it, the BJP had opposed it."

Noting that diplomacy requires seriousness and gravitas and not "event management", Sharma said there was "no major take away from this visit.

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