Ahmedabad: An 18-member US delegation, including members of the House of Representatives and business leaders, on Thursday met Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and lauded the economic development in the state under his watch.

The Gujarat strongman was referred to as a 'very dynamic leader' by the delegation, which also invited him to visit US as they like his objective on 'minimum government maximum governance'.

"We have extended an invitation to the Chief Minister Modi and requested him to show us there what he has achieved here in his state," US Congressman from Illinois Aaron Schock told reporters here.

The meeting assumes significance as the US has been denying Modi a visa for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Only recently, an invitation to speak at the Wharton India Economic Forum in the US was withdrawn when students and faculty of the University of Pennsylvania protested Modi's inclusion in the event.

Asked if this invitation meant that the US State Department had changed its stand over the issue of visa to Modi, Schock said "obviously it is a matter of the United States administration but we, along with other Republican lawmakers, will work in that direction with the US administration."
"We have invited him to the US to show us some of what he has done here in the state. We were impressed with what we have seen here, specially with his statement of `minimum government, maximum governance'. And as a Congressman of the Republican Party, I also believe in limited government," he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has maintained that Modi has never sought a visa, in the first place. US businesses, however, have warmed to Modi in recent times.

The high profile delegation, led by Republican Congressmen from Illinois Aaron Schock, on Thursday arrived here at the official residence of Modi around noon, following their visit to Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad and held over an hour-long closed-door meeting with him and high ranking state officials. Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), Cynthia Lummis, Republican Congresswoman representing Wyoming, and Cathy M. Rodgers, Republican Congresswoman from Washington state, are among the prominent faces in the delegation.

While welcoming the US delegation, Modi spoke about the fast and inclusive, environment-friendly process of development in Gujarat, an official statement issued here said. "With hard work, we have been able to create an impact in the country," Modi said. "I spoke to the US delegation about how Gujarat has adopted a faster, inclusive and environment-friendly process of development," Narendra Modi said in a comment on Twitter. "Am thankful to the members of US Congress and business persons for their kind words on Gujarat's development," he said.

During the interaction, Schock pointed out that the people in US were keen to work with Gujarat and that they were impressed by the way the state has facilitated investment. As per the official press release Schock state that there was enormous potential to work together with Gujarat.

Asked whether Modi would get a visa from the US, Schock said he would raise the issue with the US administration. "It is a conversation we will have with our administration," Schock said.  Schock also lauded the development in Gujarat, saying that the delegates respected Indian democracy. "We appreciate Mr. Modi's work. We are a democracy and respect other democracies. He has won (sic) for the fourth time, this is a great success," Schock said.

It may be recalled that following Modi's fourth consecutive victory in the 2012 Assembly Elections Schock had made a statement, congratulating Modi, on the floor of the US House of Representatives.

Modi succeeded Keshubhai Patel as chief minister in 2001, and has since won three terms in office through popular ballot. Modi has emerged as a possible prime ministerial candidate of the BJP for the 2014 general elections.
Talking to the media later, BJP leader Vijay Jolly said the delegates invited Modi to the US, and he has accepted the invitation.  
Modi has been denied visa by the US following the 2002 riots. However, whether the visa issue was discussed during today's meeting, was not known. The delegation is visiting India to promote 'People to People Contacts and Diplomacy' along with the Overseas Friends of BJP’s (OFBJP) 'Global Community Overreach Programme'. This is a joint initiative by US based National Indian- American Public Policy Institute and India based Delhi Study Group.
Business sector representatives in the delegation have been led by Illinois-based Punjabi NRI businessman and Overseas Friends of BJP member Shalabh Kumar. Other US Parliamentarians in the delegation included Cynthia Lummis (Republican Congresswoman from Wyoming) and Cathy M Rodgers (Republican Congresswoman from Washington state).

In his address to the delegation, Modi urged the need for humanitarian forces coming together and fight terrorism along with other challenges of poverty and unemployment.
Emphasizing the need to strengthen the democratic processes keeping in mind the larger good of people, Modi also talked about ideas and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. "Mahatma Gandhi has been and is the biggest light-house in this journey and Gujarat being the land of Gandhi believes in these principles. It has been in the forefront in nurturing such ideals and leading its people on the path of growth," he told the delegation as per the official statement.
Following the meeting, the delegation visited the Akshardham temple, a popular Swaminarayan temple here. After a luncheon meeting with the Mayor of Ahmedabad Asit Vora, the delegation is scheduled to experience a ride in the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS).
During their two day stay in Gujarat, the US delegation is also planning to visit Tata Nano manufacturing plant in Sanand, Ahmedabad and Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT). In addition to Gujarat, the visiting delegation will visit Bangalore, Tirupati, New Delhi, Agra, Udaipur, Jaipur and Amritsar. The delegation will meet the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, senior BJP leader L K Advani and BJP president Rajnath Singh.


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US embraces ‘very dynamic’ Modi