Ending 10-years boycott, UK resumes engagement with Modi

Monday, October 22, 2012
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Ahmedabad: Britain’s top diplomat in India James Bevan met today with the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad, ending the year-long boycott of the Gujarat state imposed in the wake of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots.

As per the media reports, Modi held his meeting with the British envoy around 12:30 pm. It was first such visit since fatal religious massacre in his state 10 years ago.

The High Commissioner will hold talks in Ahmedabad with senior politicians including Mr. Modi, and will also meet with British firms who have infrastructure projects in the state, Indian TV channels reported.

British government has been trying to increase its investment in India and thus trying to normalise its tie with Gujatat which had a restrained relation since last ten years.

The buzz in the air that Modi may ensure more investments for his state ahead of the crucial assembly elections which will be held in two phases on Dec 13 and Dec 17.

Modi-Bevan meeting marked the resumption of diplomatic dialogue after the 2002 communal riots in which three Gujarat-origin British nationals were killed.

Through his Tweeter profile Modi had welcomed the UK government's initiative towards normalising ties with Gujarat.

Undeniably, people of Gujarat have witnessed rapid growth and an industrial development across the state. Modi has created his indelible perception of corruption free government in the state if political experts to be believed it may blow a swift towards Modi’s conquest after the election.

Earlier, the announcement and the Britain’s decision had drawn condemnation from the Congress and left corridor.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had expressed surprise over the British announcement saying, "There has been no material change either in the subversion of the criminal justice system or denial of access to justice to the victims of the Gujarat pogrom in last 10 years."

Left leaders had questioned the UK's decision, with CPI leader A B Bardhan wondering why the endorsement came ahead of state polls. CPM leader Brinda Karat said the failure of the judicial process to nail Modi for the riots has encouraged the rethink.

Some Muslims organisations had also opposed the British government move to woo Modi with new policy.
While the announcement of the meeting were made, an official at the British High Commission in New Delhi had said the policy shift reflected Gujarat's dynamic economic and business climate and came after high-profile convictions of some politicians in the state over the riots.

Former Gujarat minister and close aide of Mr Modi, Maya Kodnani, was recently jailed for 28 years for her role in instigating the riots in the Naroda Patiya locality of Ahmedabad, in which more than 90 people died.
Notably, Modi is seen as the strongest saffron leader and dominant opposition candidate for the General Election 2014 in India.
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