New Delhi: Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing to make another speech at the US Capitol, two powerful US senators have raised concerns that India “took a pass” and did not directly criticise Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.
Next week, Modi will be in the US for the start of his first-ever state visit as Indian Prime Minister. He has been a frequent traveller to Washington, but his trips had not been classified as ‘state’ visits, as per the US diplomatic protocol.
With a state visit, he gets a state banquet in his honour at the White House, the highlight of his visit.
He will also become the first Indian Prime Minister to jointly address both chambers of the Congress.
At the annual India Ideas summit organised by the US-India Business Council on Tuesday, the two co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus expressed unease that India did not take a stronger position against Russia.
According to IANS, Republican senator John Cornyn said, “It was a little bit disappointing that when Russia invaded Ukraine, India took a pass.”
India has never directly criticised Russia since the start of the Ukraine war publicly, but it has consistently called for the “cessation of hostilities” by both sides and the need for a peaceful solution. India has also become one of the top buyers of Russian crude in the last one year.
At the same time, Cornyn claimed that India’s reticence was due to India’s “dependency on Russian weaponry”. Also, he acknowledged that India “cannot hit the reset button and undo 50 years of history overnight”.
His democrat colleague in the Senate, Mark Warner, was blunter. “The fact that India has arrived as a truly great – one the most important nations in the world, they can no longer take a pass on some of these things like this moral … (backsliding on the part of Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” he said.
He also admitted to be “troubled” that India’s democratic credentials had gone down due to reports of suppression of civil rights.
“I say this with appropriate respect, not trying to stick my nose in internal Indian affairs,” he said, as quoted by IANS.
“But as a great nation, as a great democracy, I hope we will hear from the prime minister, because he is so popular. Are we committed to rule of law, are we committed to a political process that (remains open)?”
“I have been troubled by some of the actions that are a bit over the top. I’ve heard privately concerns, in terms of making sure that (the) very vibrant, free press (remains) vibrant (and strong),” the senator said further, and added, “So I hope … we will get a commitment, a re-commitment.”