India-bound US lawmakers will raise issues of democracy, minority rights

 - Sakshi Post

Washington, Aug 8 (IANS) A bipartisan delegation of US lawmakers headed for India for, among other things, attending the Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech from the Red Fort on August 15, plans to raise issues of democracy, minority rights and pluralism during its visit.

Ro khanna, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives, and Micheal Waltz, a Republican, who are also co-chairs of the India Caucus, are leading the delegation, according to an announcement.

They will be joined by Representatives Deborah Ross, Kat Cammack, Shri Thanedar, Jasmine Crockett, Rich McCormick and Ed Case.

The delegation will attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Red Fort speech on August 15, visit Raj Ghat and meet government, tech, business and film world leaders in Hyderabad and Mumbai, said the announcement from Khanna’s office.

The delegation will also raise issues that may be considered uncomfortable to their Indian interlocutors. 

“The delegation will discuss issues of democracy, freedom of speech, pluralism and minority rights,” said a Congressional aide.

While there are no indications as to how and where the delegation will raise these issues, they are most likely to be raised in private conversations in line with what US officials have termed as their preferred platform, instead of public finger-pointing.

Khanna, who is an Indian-American, has been a keen observer of the developments in India. He was very critical, for instance, of the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from the Lok Sabha in March, calling it a “deep betrayal of Gandhian philosophy and India’s deepest values” in a post on Twitter (now 'X').

He had also urged Prime Minister Modi to reverse the decision for the “sake of Indian democracy”. In December 2020, the Indian-American lawmaker had sided with the farmers in their protests against the Modi government.

“India and the US share a rich tradition of democracy and peaceful protests. Farmworkers are the backbone of both our nations and must have their voices heard. I hope there's a peaceful and fair solution so they can provide for their families,” he had tweeted.

Khanna has also been critical at home of 'exclusionary' assertion of Hinduism.

“It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians,” he wrote in a tweet in 2019, adding a reference to his grandfather late Amarnath Vidyalankar, a freedom fighter and three-time MP as a member of the Congress in India.

The upcoming visit to India has been described as “history coming full circle” for Khanna, the announcement said.

“His grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar was an Indian freedom fighter who spent four years in jail alongside (Mahatma) Gandhi and later was part of India’s first Parliament.”

Khanna’s reference to his grandfather in the Rahul Gandhi tweet had met with a barrage of criticism from BJP supporters and activists who had pointed to Vidyalankar’s vote in support of the declaration of Emergency by India Gandhi in 1971.He was then an MP from Chandigarh and never ran again for office.

Khanna had defended his grandfather then, writing in a tweet, “It’s sad to see people maligning my grandfather who worked for Lala Lajpat Rai, was jailed in 1931-32 and 1941-45, and wrote two letters to Indira Gandhi opposing the Emergency, leaving Parliament right after. Attack me. Don’t attack India’s freedom fighters. And facts matter.”

Khanna is a rising star in the Democratic party and is widely believed to be considering a run for the White House at some stage. Although a member of the progressive wing of the Democratic party, he has sought to pitch for the middle ground, aligning himself with President Joe Biden on many key issues.

“As co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, we are proud to lead a bipartisan delegation to India. We will be there to discuss how to strengthen economic and defense ties between our two counties, the oldest and largest democracies,” Khanna and Waltz said in the joint announcement

“Both of us believe that the US India relationship will be a defining one of the 21st century. India is a key partner in ensuring multipolarity in Asia and the denial of China as a hegemon. We must continue to strive to make progress and build our partnership based on our shared founding values of democracy, freedom of the press and assembly, and human rights. This delegation is a historic opportunity to drive further collaboration and advance shared aims.”

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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