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Trump’s India visit: Congress puts 5 questions, asks PM Modi if he will raise them with US Prez

Senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala took to Twitter and hit at the Modi government. He raised concern about why Prime Minister Modi is silent about ‘India First’ as President Trump talked of ‘America First.’

SNS | New Delhi |

Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit, the main opposition party, the Congress on Sunday, asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi would raise with him the issue of easing H-1B visas, restoration of GSP status, national security, oil prices and steel exports as the US has already made clear that no ‘big trade-deal’ is going to be signed during the visit.

Senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala took to Twitter and hit at the Modi government. He raised concern about why Prime Minister Modi is silent about “India First” as President Trump talked of “America First”.

He also asked whether PM Modi would ensure cheaper oil for India after it stopped buying oil from Iran in view of sanctions and if Indian steel exports would get a boost after India commits to USD 3 billion defence purchases.

“Trump Government’s restrictive immigration policies have hit H-1B visas. Indians get 70 pc of 85000 H-1B Visas. Now, Rejection Rate for India has increased from 6 pc in 2015 to 24 pc in 2019, especially for IT professionals. Post 10 million people gala event, Will PM Modi ask for easing H-1B visas,” he tweeted.

Surjewala  further said  that as US prepares to sign a deal with Taliban on February 29, what about India’s red lines.

“Have we forgotten IC-814 hijacking and release of terrorist Masood Azhar in Kandhar, who’s JeM then attacked Parliament and Pulwama? As gala bash unfolds, Will Modiji raise our National Security concerns,” he said.

Surjewala said continuing  “Since 1974, the US removed India from Duty Free Imports ie GSP (generalised system of preferences) on 5 June, 2019.

It has affected the USD 5.6 billion Indian exports to the US, especially gems, jewellery, rice, leather,” he noted.

“Post ‘Howdy Modi’ and ‘Namaste Trump’ gala events, Will PM ensure restoration of GSP status,” he asked.

Surjewala  alleged,  till 2018, India imported 250 crore ton Crude Oil/month from Iran on Rupee payment, 90 days credit and doorstep delivery but the Modi government stopped buying cheaper Iran oil as per US sanctions that raised oil prices in India.

“As fest continues in Ahmedabad, will Modiji secure cheaper oil for India,” he asked.

The Congress leader alleged that India’s exports of USD 761 million of steel to the US fell by 50 pc to USD 372 million as the Trump Government hiked tariffs on import by 25 pc.

“As India commits to USD 3 billion Defense purchases, why zero relief for India’s export of steel?

Earlier, on February 12, Congress cautioned the government on US President Donald Trump’s visit to India on Friday by saying that the government should take utmost care to ensure that it did not turn into a Trump re-election campaign.

Congress highlighted three aspects that it expects from the government to be kept in mind, which are the sovereignty, self-respect and national interest of India.

“We feel this visit should not become a link to the re-election campaign of the US President. The outcome of this visit should be in the national interest,” said senior Congress leader Anand Sharma.

He further added, “The Congress understands Indo-US relations and supports it… the Congress wants the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) regime to be brought back as Indian manufacturers are suffering and it has impacted small workers in the country.”

“As Trump has said, he has good relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he has been assured that he (US President) will be welcomed by 50-70 lakh people during his visit. In such a situation, we hope that the pending issues of the country like H1B1 visa, GSP etc will be resolved,” he said.

The US President, his wife, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner along with a large delegation are visiting India on February 24 and 25.

President Donald Trump will arrive Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat, on Monday, from where he will be accompanied by PM Modi and will go on a roadshow to the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad’s Motera.

From there, the US President and the First Lady will then head to Agra where they will visit the Taj Mahal.

Later in the day, they will fly to New Delhi and have a full programme on Tuesday.

The Tuesday programme will include ceremonial events, bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister, a business event with Indian investors, with a special focus on companies that are investing in manufacturing in the US.

Donald Trump will also have a meet-and-greet with the US embassy staff and a meeting with his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind.

To conclude the visit, there will be a state dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, India hopes to sign a trade deal with the United States during Trump’s visit. However, the US president said on Wednesday that he might postpone the trade agreement till the US presidential elections.

As per reports, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has been negotiating a trade deal with India, is not travelling with Trump on the India trip. In fact, he had cancelled his earlier trip to India as well.

This will be US President Trump’s first visit to India. It will be his fifth meeting with PM Modi in eight months.