Congress to govt: Don’t reduce Trump’s visit to PR exercise, photo op

Congress to govt: Don’t reduce Trump's visit to PR exercise, photo op

“There should be gravitas, seriousness and depth in this visit,” Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma  said

Ahead of Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India, the Congress on Friday asked the government not to reduce his trip to a “photo opportunity” or “PR exercise” and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to leverage his “special friendship” with the US President to ensure “tangible outcomes” on “substantive issues” for India, such as enhancement of H-1B visas for Indian professionals and restoration of General System of Preferences (GSP), which provides preferential market access for Indian produce to America.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma asked Prime Minister Modi to “keep India’s sovereignty, self-respect and national interest uppermost in his mind while conducting Trump’s visit”.

“There should be gravitas, seriousness and depth in this visit,” he said. He also raised questions on the “big festivities” being planned in Ahmedabad to welcome Trump, saying the “splurge at the cost of the state exchequer militates against the philosophy and value system of Mahatma Gandhi” whose 150th birth anniversary the country is marking this year.

“This visit must have tangible outcomes. Then only it can be termed as success from the Indian perspective. There have been recent developments which have cast a shadow... these developments are negative from our perspective. The US and President Trump, they have withdrawn the GSP benefit to the Indian products, produce and Indian exports. The US has declared India as a developed country, thereby equating India with rich countries including China whose per capita income and GDP are five times that of India,” Sharma said.

Arguing that reducing the Trump visit to a photo opportunity or a PR exercise would devalue the importance of the India-US partnership, he said, “This visit should also not become an extension of the US presidential campaign for the Indian diaspora vote. ... the Prime Minister ought to be careful as these are setting wrong precedents.”