You Tube Video: Nidhi Razdan’s (Reporter of NDTV) Interview with Barry Gardiner MP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy6Ba434nfk
LONDON: Nearly 10 months after the British government warmed upto Narendra Modi, the India groups of the country’s two main political parties have invited the Gujarat chief minister to visit the UK.
The ball was set rolling by the Opposition party’s Labour Friends of India when its chairman, Barry Gardiner MP, sent a letter to Modi last week inviting him to the House of Commons to speak on ‘The Future of Modern India’.
“The invitation is a culmination of several years of engagement between senior representatives of the Labour Party and Narendra Modi,” the Labour MP for Brent North said.
“I am sure people in the UK and indeed the international community would be very interested to meet and hear what Narendra Modi has to say first hand. He is a politician who cannot be ignored.
I believe it’s in Britain’s best interests that we engage with him as both the chief minister of Gujarat and also potential prime minister,” he added.
“I, like many colleagues within the Labour Party, look forward to welcoming chief minister Modi to the UK. I last had the pleasure of meeting him in Gujarat in 2009. His return visit to the UK is long overdue,” said Stephen Pound MP, former chair of Labour Friends of India.
In a rare show of political unity, the Conservative Friends of India issued their own invite for the chairman of the BJP’s national election committee a day later on August 9.
Its co-chairman, Sailesh Vara MP, struck a personal note in his letter expressing a wish to “finally meet” Modi.
“It would be a great privilege for us to host an event for you. I very much hope that you will take us up on this invitation when opportunity allows,” wrote Vara, the Tory MP for North West Cambridgeshire.
The UK government, like the US, had distanced itself from Modi in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots. However after a series of meetings over the years, initiated by the likes of prominent British Indian economist Lord Meghnad Desai and Barry Gardiner MP, the Conservative-led coalition was forced to re-establish diplomatic ties with the Modi administration last year.
Lord Gulam Noon, a prominent British Indian Labour peer and one time critic of Modi, welcomed the latest invite for him to visit the UK.
“I think it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it. India’s 1.2 billion people want and deserve a change. Narendra Modi is someone who has all the talent to lead the world’s largest democracy,” Lord Noon said.
The Gujarat chief minister’s office confirmed it had received invitations from both Labour and Conservative parliamentary groups. “Modi is grateful for the invitations, but has no immediate plans to visit the UK,” a spokesperson said.
October 22 last year, James Bevan, UK’s High Commissioner in India, met with Modi, ending a 10-year boycott of the BJP leader by Britain over the 2002 communal riots.
Earlier this year, European Union also ended its a decade-old boycott of the Gujarat chief minister over the issue when envoys and representatives of several EU member countries hosted a luncheon meeting for Modi in New Delhi.
Narendra Modi to address British Parliament
Narendra Modi has been invited to visit the House of Commons and speak on ‘The Future of Modern India’
LONDON: British MP Barry Gardiner has written to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, inviting him to visit the House of Commons and speak on ‘The Future of Modern India’, a move that ends UK’s decade-long boycott of Modi following the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Gardiner, who is also the chairman of Labour Friends of India, told TOI that he invited Modi because he is the chief minister of a state with which Britain has more FDI than the rest of the country put together.
“Narendrabhai is (among) the longest-serving chief ministers of his generation. He is also CM of a state with which Britain has more FDI than the rest of India,” Gardiner told TOI.
“Just because he is from the BJP does not mean he isn’t secular. Look at Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Did he rule as a divisive character? Was he a bad prime minister? Both Modi and Vajpayee are respectful of the (Indian) constitution. India was earlier a regional power. It’s now a global power. In this century, it can become a superpower. It’s, therefore, of utmost importance to hear the views of a man who has had so much influence on the country’s events,” Gardiner said.
“Whether or not Modi goes on to become India’s next prime minister, nobody can deny he is clearly one of India’s most influential political actors. Hence, his view on how he wants to see India in the near future is of great interest to the UK and Europe,” Gardiner added.
Modi has been invited to visit the House of Commons and deliver a lecture for a select group of top MPs on what he envisages should be the future of modern India. Gardiner is also a shadow minister. The influential Labour organisation works to further links between the Labour Party and India.
“I would like you to speak about ‘The Future of Modern India’. Of course I understand how busy the current period is for you with the Indian elections next year, so please regard this invitation as being for any time that is convenient to you over the next months.”
Gardiner said Modi’s “integrity, ability to administer and govern and strategic political thinking is of the highest order”. He called him “a secular leader who has the overwhelming support of all communities in Gujarat… proven time and time again in state elections”.
“I have met politicians from across the world and I rank him on the pinnacle of all political leaders I have known,” Gardiner said. “His competence to govern is unbelievable.”
Asked whether Modi is capable of governing India, Gardiner said, “Gujarat is the size of the UK or any European country. Since he has taken the state to the highest pinnacles of growth, it’s easy to see him as the head of the UK or any European country.”
On Gujarat riots, Gardiner said, “The Supreme Court has till now exonerated Modi of all charges regarding the riots, and I believe the Supreme Court. We have to access the man on his capability to govern. It took us four days to control the London riots in 2012. It took him three days to bring the riots to a stop in Gujarat.
Earlier this year, the European Union also ended a decade-old boycott of Modi.
British minister of state at the foreign and commonwealth office Hugo Swire recently became the first cabinet minister from the UK to visit Gujarat. Swire had told TOI that UK’s renewed engagement with Gujarat after more than a decade was more “economic” and not “an endorsement of any single politician or party”.
“In October 2012, after much consideration, our government changed our approach to engagement in Gujarat,” Swire had said. “The decision was not taken lightly and I respect the views of those who disagree with our change of policy. Gujarat has grown at 10% per year for the last five years and is experiencing rapid development. The UK has a broad range of interests there.”