New Delhi: Amidst all the controversy on the home turf over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's visa to the United States, the US has now said that it will consider Modi's visa application if he applies. The US state department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said, "If (the Gujarat) Chief Minister Modi applies for a visa, his application will be considered to determine whether he qualifies for a visa in accordance with US immigration law and policy."
"I think I just said we will consider his application if he applies, and I'm not going to get ahead of where we are at this time," she reiterated, when asked for the second time during the news conference. "But as you know, we don't talk about the specifics of that process or individual cases, but he would, of course, be considered if he were to apply," Psaki said.
This comes as the controversy over 65 Members of Parliament signing letter urging US President Barack Obama not to issue Modi a visa took a new turn on Wednesday with nine MPs denying signing any letter. The MPs who have denied signing the anti-Modi letter include five Congress leaders. Two of the Congress MPs also said they do not remember signing the letter.
The Centre has also said it is not right for anyone to involve a third country in domestic issues. "It is not right for anyone to ask like this. It's for the US to decide. We should solve our issues at home," said Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs.
After CPM MP Sitaram Yechury denied signing any such letter, DMK MP from Rajya Sabha KP Ramalingam and CPI MP Achutan have also denied that they had put their signatures on the letter to US President Barack Obama.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MPs Vandana Chavan and Sanjeev Naik, Congress MPs Marotrao Kowase, Anil Lad and Jayantrao Avale have also denied signing the letter. Meanwhile, Congress MPs Pradip Bhattacharya and Joy Abraham said that they do not remember signing the letter.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedkar said tirade seemed to be a conspiracy as many of the signatories have denied of signing the letter. "Many of the signatories have denied they having been signed this memorandum. This shows that it was a conspiracy. It is a Congress dirty trick department which is at work now," he said.
A letter supposedly signed by 65 MPs to Obama dated December 2012 had urged him not to grant a US visa to Modi. The letter was re-sent to the White House to coincide with BJP President Rajnath Singh's trip, as he will push the US government to change its policy and grant Modi a US visa.
Yechury, whose name figures at number 9 on the letter written in late 2012, on Tuesday had also refuted claims that he was one of the MPs who had sought to Obama to halt Modi's visit. He had said, "I would be the last person to write to the US Administration and to do something like this. We don't want anyone to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. Secondly, it is up to the US government to decide on giving visa."
Yechury has now said, "I deny having signed any such letter. The one circulating in cyberspace, now many months after it was allegedly signed, is typed on the letterhead of a MP which carries the insignia of our national symbol, the Ashok
Chakra. The heading under which some signatures are appended says, 'names and signatures of Indian MPs'. Strange, which other country's MPs would sign on the letterhead of the Indian Parliament? This itself suggests some efforts at cut and paste."
Yechury said that it appears to be a cut-paste job to which the Independent MP Mohammed Adeeb has said that he will take Yechury to court if he thinks he was cheated.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Adeeb said, "I am shocked, I don't believe that a person like Yechury can say like this. I have his signature. His name is on number 9. How can I paste it? I am a Member of Parliament and I cannot do such a thing. If he thinks I have cheated him, I will take him to court."
He also said he is open to any inquiry. When asked about other MPs denying having signed the letter, Adeeb said, "There must be some party policy binding them." He also challenged Yechury saying, "I challenge Yechury to take action against me. I have full right to write to the President of the United States." "The main issue of Modi not getting visa has been lost," Adeeb added.
Adeeb had earlier said, "Yechury must have forgotten about it as the letter is six-months-old or he must be thinking that I have written some new letter and forging his signature. This is a letter which he signed in November 2012. His name is there."
Adeeb took the initiative for this campaign and had said that they sent letters to Obama again because of the current campaign and initiative being taken by BJP President Rajnath Singh for getting a US visa for Modi. Rajanth, who is on a visit to Washington, will meet US lawmakers, think tanks and the US government officials during which he said he will urge the Americans to lift the ban on visa for Modi.
Meanwhile, the BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said it seems to be a jugal bandi of congress abroad. "It's an issue of privilege motion also against the MP's as they are speaking against democratically-elected Chief Minister. There should be a case of fabrication and forgery against these people as Sitaram Yechury denied signing letter," she added.
The Congress too has washed its hands of the Modi visa controversy saying it does not make a difference to them whether or not Modi is granted a US Visa. Party General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said, "We have nothing to do with it. It is upto the US govt to issue visa to Modi."
Modi has been denied visa by the US for the last several years over allegations of human rights violations during the 2002 riots in Gujarat. A total of 65 MPs wrote letter to Obama in late 2012 against granting Modi a US visa. While one letter was signed by 25 Rajya Sabha MPs, the other was signed by 40 Lok Sabha members. The letters were written on November 26 and December 5, 2102 respectively and re-faxed to the White House on Sunday.