Joy for Modi, jolt for Congress as British envoy to meet Gujarat CM for the first time since riots

Friday, October 12, 2012
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi  welcomes
announcement by the UK govt to further coperation
between UK and Gujarat [Photo:]
New Delhi: Ending the year-long boycott of the Gujarat state imposed in the wake of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots Britain on Thursday replaced it no-contact policy with a programme of “active engagement” in an attempt to boost  mutual interest and to explore opportunities for closer cooperation.

Britain's envoy to India will meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the first such visit since fatal religious massacre in his state 10 years ago.

British deputy foreign minister for India, Hugo Swire on Thursday instructed the British high commissioner in New Delhi to visit Gujarat and to meet the chief minister and other senior figures in the state. 

"This will allow us to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest and to explore opportunities for closer cooperation," Swire said in a statement.

Through his Tweeter profile Modi welcomed the UK government's initiative towards normalising ties with Gujarat. His website also carried the press release issued by Hugo Swire, the new British minister in charge of India.

Modi is seen as the strongest saffron leader and dominant opposition candidate for the General Election 2014 in India.

Undeniably, people of Gujarat have witnessed rapid growth and a 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.

The announcement and the Britain’s decision also drew condemnation from the Congress and left corridor.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari expressing 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 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 have also opposed the British government move to woo Modi with new policy.
An official at the British High Commission in New Delhi 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.  

Notably, no date has been declared for the announced visit, which however needs approval by the India’s foreign ministry.
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