Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit ‘disappointing’, the Congress on Wednesday lashed out at the PM for reducing diplomacy to “event management” and trying to create an atmosphere through ‘cheerleaders’.
“We wonder whether he had gone there on an election campaign or he was suddenly reminded of his Parliamentary constituency Varanasi,” Congress spokes-person Anand Sha-rma said, adding the Madison Square event was “grand and expensive” for which a “sizeable proportion of cheerleaders” went from India.
“The 18,000 people at Madison Square were not poor. They had booked seats at $5,000 to $10,000 per seat… Who will not come if you have the best of artistes, dancers and musicians from India performing?” he said.
Sharma said there were expectations of some concrete decision on signing the Indo-US nuclear agreement and also of resolving the issue of H1 B visa. “Nothing was done. The PM’s visit was disappointing. Nothing which brought any new turn in the Indo-US relations happened… When you look at the outcomes, it is definitely disappointing,” he said.
“Diplomacy requires gravitas and seriousness, not event management. You (the PM) don’t go there to show through cheerleaders how popular you are,” Sharma said, adding there were “no major take-aways from the visit”.
Talking about Modi’s address at the UN General Assembly, he claimed “two-third of the Assembly hall was empty” when he was speaking. “We needed presence in the plenary hall, not those cheering outside… The small gathering is a matter of concern,” the former Union minister added.
He also said all Indian PMs, who went to the US in the past, were given the honour of addressing the joint session of US Congress but “Modi was not given this honour”. The Congress attacked the PM for “withdrawing”, ahead of his US visit, an order which empowered the drug pricing authority of powers to cap prices of non-essential drugs and then during his visit deciding to set up, in collaboration with the US, a high-level working group on intellectual property to sort out issues which have been hampering investments.
“Our currency has become volatile. That is a matter of concern. Why is it happening if so much foreign exchange is coming in,” Sharma said.