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Denying visa to Modi was a big mistake by the US: Analyst Fareed Zakaria

May 22, 2014 09:39 AM IST India India
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New Delhi: As Narendra Modi gets ready to take oath as India's 15th Prime Minister, analyst Fareed Zakaria says it was a big mistake by the United States of America to have denied him a visa for all these years.

"It was a mistake, it was short-sighted, it was foolish. As you probably know this was a result of a rather bizarre set of circumstances in America, somebody created this Congress on religious tolerance in 1998. During the Bush years, people started worrying that this was going to be used as a tool of fundamental Christians in America to protest against violence against Christians, so they were looking for a way of showing that they were not simply concerned with violence against Christians," Zakaria said.

Terming the reaction of the US to the Godhra riots as hypocrisy, Zakaria said, "in 2002 the Godhra riots happened. You know Muslims are killed. As you know, the riots themselves are very disturbing. The state, the police complicity is disturbing, so they named Modi, as the head of the government. But the bizarre thing is that nobody else is ever been named on this list."

"In the last ten years, we've had lots of religious intolerance and extremism and so when you have a list which has one member, which has one person on it, when you have a list when somebody is being chosen on a selective and arbitrary criteria, it looks like hypocrisy, it looks foolish. The reality is that it was sort of incompetence. After that, the commission ran out of schemes and realised that these lists were not such a good idea," he added.

Zakaria also said that the US has extended its invitation to Modi and it was now Modi's chance to take a step ahead. "The US has to dig itself out of that hole and as I said, Obama has tried, the question is now whether Modi will be gracious," he said.

As a head of state Modi, who has been denied a visa by the US since the Godhra riots, is now eligible for an A-1 visa.