Sinha briefs US Congressmen on BJP's stand on reforms
Washington: With still nearly two years to go for general elections in India, a confident BJP has started wooing US with its high-level visits to the Capitol Hill to explain party's views on various issues.
Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha is the second party leader to visit the US Congress in a year and meet key Congressional leaders apparently to put across BJP's views on economic reforms and foreign policy.
Party strategist Arun Jaitley had done a similar exercise last year.
As an external affairs minister in the NDA regime, Sinha said, he had a tough time to convince US officials of state sponsorship of terrorism by Pakistan, but during his current visit he found Congressmen and Senators very receptive.
Sinha yesterday said he found the mood at the Capitol Hill totally different and that there is a great deal of anger among US lawmakers against Pakistan.
India no longer has to "bend over backwards" to explain to US Congressmen the dangers of state-sponsorship of terrorism by Pakistan, the BJP leader said.
Sinha, who is currently on a private visit to attend the graduation of his grandson in Boston, met US lawmakers at the direction of BJP leadership to brief them on his party's position on a host of issues.
Sinha said he held a series of meetings with half-a-dozen Congressmen yesterday. He met top American lawmakers from the US House of Representatives Joe Crowley, Steve Chabot, Chris Van Hollen, Ed Royce, Frank Pallone, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Sinha said lawmakers did express concern over the slow pace of economic reform, to which he explained to them the Indian parliamentary system and the democratic process and urged them to have some patience with this regard.
India's "growth story is still intact" Sinha told lawmakers, adding there is "nothing fundamentally wrong" with the system and it could be revived by the present government.
"If not we will do it" after coming to power, the senior BJP leader exuded with confidence.
US lawmakers also raised the issue of Iran, to which Sinha supported the stand being taken by the Indian Government.
Sinha said while India will abide by UN sanctions on Iran, it has reservations on unilateral sanctions.
During his meetings, Sinha also took up the issue of his party's concerns on the withdrawal of NATO and US forces from Afghanistan and argued that the Obama Administration should not leave the country in a hurry or in a situation where the Taliban could come back to power with the help of Pakistan.