Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to a gathering of the Indian community in Muscat, the Congress on Monday claimed the Indian ambassador in Oman had written to Indian companies in that country, asking them to send their workers to the event, and asked the government to explain why it allowed instruments and institutions of the state to be misused for personal promotion of the PM.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma released one such letter, purportedly written by Indian ambassador Indra Mani Pandey, on January 17. The letter makes no mention of the PM’s event. It talks about the embassy’s plan to organise a “mega public event for the Indian community in Oman in the second week of February in Muscat”.
“As employees and workers of major companies in Oman represent a significant section of Indian community in Oman, we would like to have their participation in the… event. In view of your extraordinary goodwill towards India and your abiding commitment towards strengthening Oman-India friendship as well as the fact that your company employs a large number of Indians, I request you to spare at least… employees, with at least 80 per cent of them being blue collar workers for half a day (from 12.30 pm) to participate in the..event,” the letter said.
While there was no official response from the Ministry of External Affairs, government sources said the idea was to have adequate representation from the Indian blue-collared worker community. “The blue-collared workers in Oman comprise almost 6.5 lakh of the total 8 lakh Indian diaspora. The idea was to reach out to them,” a source said.
“There were two challenges to get these workers. First, since the Indian community reception required online registration, we could not have expected them to fulfil the online registration process,” the source said. The second challenge was more formidable. “Our Indian workers live in camps. They cannot step out of the camp without permission from employers. So we contacted the Indian companies to facilitate their attendance at the event,” the source added.