Congress’s London unit against Modi’s Wembley meet

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After BJP’s debacle in the Bihar assembly elections, the overseas unit of the Congress has said the interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the British Indian diaspora in London on Friday would be an interference in the internal affairs of India.

“For foreign nationals, who either have a communal bias or are ignorant about India, to fete Modi when the communal situation in India is highly disturbing and clearly the mood of the country has turned against him, would be an insult to the people of the country,” the Indian Overseas Congress (London) stated in a letter to the Europe India Forum, organisers of the event.

“It would also be an unacceptable attempt to influence Indians from abroad and consequently an interference in the internal affairs of India,” the letter said about the event scheduled at the Wembley Stadium.

After Madison Square Garden in New York, Allphones Arena in Sydney, Ricoh Colisuem in Toronto, the Dubai Cricket Stadium in Dubai and the SAP Centre in San Jose, California, Modi will be holding his by now trademark public interactions with the Indian diaspora at the iconic stadium on the second day of his visit to Britain this month.

The event is going to be the biggest such gathering that Modi will address with the organisers expecting the stadium to seat over 70,000 people of Indian origin — surpassing the gathering of around 50,000 at the Dubai Cricket Stadium on August 17 this year.

Crowds of around 18,000 greeted the prime minister at the Madison Square Garden (September 28, 2014) and SAP Centre (September 27, 2015) events while around 16,000 people gathered at Allphones Arena (November 17, 2014) and around 10,000 at Ricoh Coliseum (April 15, 2015).

The letter written by D. L. Kalhan, president of the Indian Overseas Congress (London), stated that for the past 18 months, “India has experienced widespread intimidation of agnostics, atheists, liberal Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs by Hindu extremists owing allegiance to Modi.”

“Several people were killed, in one case for allegedly eating beef,” it stated.

Kalhan lamented there has been no condemnation of such acts or the persons committing them by Modi.

“No proactive measures were taken by the central government to act against the culprits. The Centre has, in fact, fallen back on the excuse of law and order being a state subject.”

The letter said India was “witnessing a repeat of the 2002 inaction of Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat, and when then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee reminded him that when in office he must observer Raj Dharma and not behave like an RSS activist”.

The letter also pointed out the fact that in India, whenever a party has won power at the centre, it has gone on to win most, often all state elections in the next two years.

“Yet, Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have not won an absolute majority in a single major state. They only emerged as the largest single party in Maharashtra and have now been thoroughly rejected in Bihar. These results reflect the doubts that have crept in soon after his victory, is presently turning into a flood of anger.”

The BJP and its allies won only 58 seats of the 243-seat Bihar assembly with the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance that includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress winning a stunning 178 seats.

“In such a climate, for British nationals to ignore the sentiments of the Indian people would be terribly insensitive,” Kalhan stated in his letter.

He, however, said the Indian Overseas Congress (London) would not disrespect the office of the Indian prime minister by demonstrating against Modi on foreign soil.

“But there is no doubt that the rally will be seen in India as a vulgar exhibition of clannishness and cronyism,” the letter stated.


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