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Wharton withdrawing its invite to Modi wrong: Congressman

March 06, 2013 08:21 IST

Expressing disappointment at the decision of Wharton India Economic Forum on rescinding its invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a United States lawmaker has said that for Wharton ‘to suppress the views of some at the expense of others’ is simply not right.

"When extending its invite, Wharton knew like the US knows that, more than a decade later, India's Supreme Court has not found any evidence against CM Modi regarding the allegations that his critics continue to put forward," said Congressman Eni Faleomavaega in a statement on Wednesday.

He said, "It is disappointing that Wharton rescinded its invite in response to a protest from a segment of professors and students who are reaching beyond the law and coming awfully close to violating the rights of others who have a different view."

He is ranking member of the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House Foreign Relations Committee, which has broad jurisdiction for matters affecting US-India relations.

"Universities are a place for divergent views. For Wharton to suppress the views of some at the expense of others simply is not right," he stressed.

A non-voting member of the House of Representatives, Faleomavaega had recently at a Congressional hearing urged the US government to review its policy with regard to Modi and establish relationship with him.

He is the only US lawmaker to be publicly supporting Modi.

"The US-India relationship is vital to the success of the US pivot to Asia and Modi is one of the most important political leader in India. This is why I say again that it is time for the US to begin a dialogue now with CM Modi who may very well be India's next prime minister," he said.

Meanwhile according to an unscientific poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal revealed that more than 90 per cent of the over 4,000 respondents said that Wharton was ‘wrong’ to revoke Modi's invitation, while only 6.3 per cent of them have justified the decision.

Sadanand Dhume, Indian American columnist for The Wall Street Journal and a scholar at American Enterprise Institute -- a Washington-based think-tank -- who was invited to the annual meet yesterday announced his decision not to speak in protest of the decision of the Wharton on Modi.

"If (University of) Penn(Sylvania) had reservations about a speech by the controversial politician, then why invite him in the first place? If Wharton students have traditionally decided upon speakers for the 17-year-old conference, then why should faculty-from outside the business school suddenly demand a say?" he asked.

He added that if an event on India's economy doesn't have space for the leader of arguably India's best performing state, one whose achievements are routinely noted in the international press, then how seriously can one take it?

The Wharton India Economic Forum is yet to announced a replacement for Modi, who is scheduled to deliver a key note address via video on March 23.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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