Modi govt now snubbing critics in other countries too. And US, UK won’t hold back for longJanuary 6, 2020
The new assertiveness in Indian foreign policy where risk-taking, according to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, is an inherent part, has taken a curious direction. This is now risking alienating India’s friends or at least a section of people with whom India enjoys all-round support, especially in the United States.
It seems like the arrogance with which the Narendra Modi government, egged by its core support base, dismisses critical views on its policies at home is now being carried into its foreign policy as well. This domestic political strategy of aggressively taking on critics has now been taken to other nations – global politicians and scholars who criticise Modi’s Kashmir policy or citizenship law are attacked on social media; overseas Indian communities are enlisted to protest against Modi’s detractors on foreign shores, including in front of foreign newspaper offices, or actively campaigning for conservative political parties, like in the case of the UK recently.
The snubbing of Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a vocal critic of India’s policy on Kashmir, by Foreign Minister Jaishankar is not likely to go down well in the US and has in fact already been condemned by Democrat presidential aspirants Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as an effort to “silence” or “shut out” US lawmakers standing up for human rights. Jaishankar reasoned that the Kashmir resolution that Jayapal authored did not reflect a balanced view or fairly characterised what the Indian government was doing in Kashmir. “I have no interest in meeting her,” he had said.
The ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event, which was attended by both Republicans and Democrats, was seen as an endorsement of US President Donald Trump by PM Modi in front of thousands of Indian Americans at the NRG stadium in Houston, Texas, and the millions watching it on TV. With foreign influence in domestic political process in the US being a raging issue since Trump’s election, this Modi-Trump bonhomie will also be watched by the Democrats.