NEW YORK: The US said on Friday that if Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi applies for a visa, he would be considered like any other applicant.
“We evaluate them (applicants) case by case, and we wouldn’t speak to it publicly anyway. But of course, if he applied it would be considered,’’ said US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki in response to whether Modi’s visa application would be considered if he were to apply again.
“Well, we’ve stated that publicly a number of times,’’ she added.
She said visas are issued on a case by case and not under pressure from anyone.
Asked whether the visiting BJP president Rajnath Singh recently raised the issue with the State Department, she said, “Beyond that, I don’t have any private diplomatic conversations to read out for you.’’
When asked whether the visa issue could impact US-India relations, Psaki said, “Absolutely not. We have the Vice President was just there and we have a longstanding, strategic and productive relationship with India.’’
Modi was denied visa in 2005 for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots after the Godhra incident in which 58 people, mostly Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya, were burnt by Muslim miscreants. This led to widespread riots which caused death of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.
Later, 31 Muslim miscreants were convicted for their role in the riots. Godhra has known tensions between Hindus and Muslims since the days of the Partition in 1947.
Though Modi has not applied for the US visa after that, the issue has hot up recently as the Gujarat chief minister is leading the BJP into the 2014 elections.
Visiting BJP president Rajnath said here recently that the US would have to revoke the visa on Modi. This led many Indian MPs to write to the US administration not to revoke the visa ban on Modi.
The comments by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen that Modi cannot be the prime minister of India because of his lack of secular credentials have added to the raging debate on the BJP leader.