According to Satyabrata Pal, when Modi decided to visit UK post Godhra riots, the government’s reaction wasn’t exactly warm and receptive.
PM Narendra Modi in his recent UK tour addressed a joint press conference with David Cameron where questions were raised about travel restrictions imposed on the erstwhile Gujarat CM post-2002 Godhra riots. Modi answered promptly saying that he wants to ‘set the record straight’ and that he had travelled to UK in 2003, and was warmly welcomed in the country. Now, ex-diplomat Satyabrata Pal, who was India’s Deputy High Commission in London at that time has written an article in The Wire, where he claims that the situation was not as rosy as Modi is claiming in UK at that time. Pal says that post-Gujarat riot, the British media was up in arms and Foreign Office in London was busy doing damage control. According to Pal, when Modi decided to visit UK in such a hostile atmosphere, the government’s reaction wasn’t exactly warm and receptive.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They thought that Modi’s visit would drive a wedge between the immigrants and criticising him would not go down well with the Indian government, a crucial ally. Hence according to Pal, they wanted Modi to cancel his visit keeping larger bilateral interests in mind. The Indian High Commission also shared similar views and they sent their recommendations to the Foreign Ministry. Pal claims that Foreign Ministry also saw reason to their objection, but due to intervention from then PM Vajpayee, Modi’s trip went through. Pal has made an even more startling claim that there was serious apprehension of Modi being formally arrested or being under citizen’s arrest during his 2003 UK tour. UK government expressed their concern to their Indian counterpart, however Modi continued his trip as usual. According to Pal, this showed that Narendra Modi’s personal ambition was more important to him than Indo- UK bilateral relationship. Pal goes on to say that in 2005 Modi again planned a UK visit but the authorities were much more strident in their views. With a regime change in India too, Modi chose to play safe that time and promptly cancelled his visit, claims ex-diplomat Satyabrata Pal.