Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's India visit clouded in controversies
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is on a eight-day visit to India. But, it includes only half day of official engagements in Delhi. This has surprised many. Further, the six cabinet ministers accompanying him also have minimal official engagements. Apart from this, PM Modi's absence at the airport to receive Trudeau and the latter's unusual itinerary has sparked off controversies. Here's more about it.
Modi government rejects "snub" speculation
Be it Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu or Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, PM Modi has welcomed them warmly at the airport, often breaking protocols. So, his not receiving Trudeau sparked questions about whether it is an intended "snub." But, government insists that diplomatic protocol has been followed by the book. Thus, a minister-in-waiting greets the leader, in this case, Gajendra Singh Shekawat, MoS Agriculture.
Trudeau's unusual schedule raises eyebrows
Surprisingly, Trudeau will meet PM Modi just a day before leaving for home. The prevalent norm is that bilateral meetings are usually conducted during the tour's first part. Trudeau, in fact, will visit Agra, Gandhinagar, Mumbai and Amritsar before Delhi. Canadians were also wrangled that unlike the courtesy extended to Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Modi didn't accompany Trudeau on his one-day tour to Gujarat.
Khalistan issue to blame for alleged "coldness" in relations
The alleged "frostiness" apparently extends across BJP and Congress. This is reportedly to do with Harjit Sajjan and Amarjit Sohi, Sikh ministers in Trudeau's cabinet who are known for issuing statements supporting Canada's Khalistan elements. Further, Trudeau is seen as a "Khalistan" sympathizer. However, his government has debunked this saying they are in favor of a "united India," but Canada allows freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, why are Canadian think-tanks upset?
Canadian think-tanks aren't impressed with Trudeau's itinerary either. Ottawa-based Canadian Taxpayers Federation claimed that the "proportion of time being spent actually meeting foreign counterparts on this trip does not suggest a good use of public money." Further, "little of substance" will be accomplished.
Is Trudeau's trip a bid to woo Indian constituencies?
Reportedly, Trudeau's trip woos his domestic constituency. Canada's Sikh diaspora could view his Amritsar Golden Temple visit positively. Moreover, the growing Gujarati community would appreciate his Sabarmati Ashram and Akshardham Temple visits. Carleton University's economics professor Vivek Dehejia described that as "mostly playing to the diaspora gallery in Canada." But, considering that Indian community forms 3% of Canadian population, Trudeau's approach is astonishing.
What lies ahead in Trudeau's schedule?
Trudeau and his family first visited the Taj Mahal at Agra. In Gujarat, he paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram followed by a townhall at IIM Ahmedabad. Now, he will have a one-on-one meeting with Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh. Though the agenda is open-ended, "sensitivities from the Indian side are expected to be conveyed" before he meets Modi for bilateral talks.