With Narendra Modi poised to be India’s new prime minister, it still remained unclear Friday if the leader of India’s Hindu nationalist party will be granted a visa by the United States.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman would only say that all heads of state are eligible for an A1 visa and that they are not automatically granted, the Times of India reported Friday.
"Heads of state and heads of government are eligible for A1 visa classification under the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act]. No individual automatically qualifies for a U.S. visa," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "U.S. law exempts foreign government officials, including heads of state and heads of government from certain potential inadmissibility grounds.”
Modi has had a shaky relationship with the West amid accusations that he was responsible for religious-fueled riots in Gujurat state in 2002 that led to the deaths of 1,000 people, most of them Muslims. Modi denied links to the violence.
Modi, the chief minister of Gujurat since 2001, has had U.S. visa issues before. His business visa was revoked in 2005 and that same year he was denied a diplomatic visa after he was found to have committed “particularly severe violations of religious freedom” under a section of U.S. law.
Psaki wouldn’t say whether Modi would be issued a visa, although she said the U.S. looks forward to working with the new Indian government. Modi is the leader of the National Democratic Alliance, which in turn is led by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP is projected to have an overwhelming majority of the seats in parliament. The Congress Party has conceded defeat in the just-completed election.