Denied U.S. Visa, Modi to Address Gujaratis Via Video Link
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has again been denied a visa to visit the United States, will address nearly 10,000 Gujaratis through a live video conference on May 19 as part of Gujarat Day celebrations in Secaucus, N.J.
This will be the third consecutive time that Modi will reach out to the expatriate community via video link, organizers said. Apart from the main event, organized by the Swaminarayan Temple in Secaucus, N.J., the telecast will also be seen in major cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, Columbus, Orlando and Houston.
“Narendra Modi is the state’s leader after Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who has made Gujarat famous across the world through his work,” Suresh Jani, one of the main organizers, told Desi Talk. He added that even though Modi has been denied visa, events such as the video conference emphasize that the chief minister is still close to the Gujarati community in the U.S.
Last month, the Obama administration ended speculation surrounding the visa and indicated that there is unlikely to be any change in the State Department's policy to refuse Modi a visa to visit the U.S. The statement was issued April 26 after Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., launched a campaign to prevail upon the administration to grant a diplomatic visa to Modi.
According to information on his website, Modi was first denied a visa in 2005 when he had planned to travel to Florida to address the Asian American Hotel Owners convention. Then, the State Department said it could not issue him a diplomatic visa because of its Immigration and Nationality Act that says "any foreign government official responsible for serious violation of religious freedom is ineligible for a visa." An earlier visa that had been issued to him in 1998 was also revoked. The denial of visa is linked to the 2002 Godhra sectarian riots that took place under his watch.
Modi has previously addressed the World Gujarati Conference in Edison, N.J., in 2008 and a similar conference in Bartlett, Ill.
Modi was featured on the cover of the March 26 South Pacific edition of Time magazine . While he was praised for the development of the state he has been ruling for over a decade, the magazine asked the question, "Modi means business but can he lead India?" In the article titled "Boy from the backyard," the magazine described Modi as a "controversial, ambitious and shrewd politician" and mentioned his series of daylong Sadbhavana fasts to reach out to the people of the state.