Modi doctrine: ‘A mix of personal victory and breaking old barriers’

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) Even as the United States has christened Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Indo-US ties as ‘The Modi doctrine’, politicians and political watchers feel that Modi has been able to break from India’s past hesitation in dealing with the US and also turned the diplomatic occasion into a great “personal victory” for him as well.

“Basically Modi has addressed three barriers – personal, ideological and institutional. There was a hesitation about engaging with Modi. The US was disinclined also because they preferred India merely as an ally not an autonomous partner. They were not clear about institutional engagement,” Praful Ketkar, Editor of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-run ‘The Organiser’, told IANS.

“The United States also had ideological differences with India. But all these have been knocked off,” Ketkar said, adding that during last two years, “One single most achievement of the Modi government in foreign policy was the ability to change a global perception that India’s foreign policy is generally non-committal and passive.”

Biju Janata Dal floor leader Bhartruhari Mahtab endorsed a similar sentiment.

“Building up strong Indo-US ties has been an agenda for the Indian government since the time of Rajiv Gandhi. But there always was some hesitation. To an extent this hesitation prevailed during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime despite Jaswant Singh and Strobe Talbott (former US Secretary of State). But now that hesitation is gone,” Mahtab told IANS here.

“I welcome the fact that PM Modi has shown it clearly that there should not be any hesitation or a kind of shyness in embracing the United States with open arms publicly. This is a new shift,” he said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kailash Vijayvargia also welcomed Washington’s gesture in designating Modi’s vision as “The Modi doctrine”, and said “This is a great personal victory of one leader who remained focused on his work even when everyone else
and the secular brigade and NGOs wanted the international community to isolate him”.

Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Indo-US ties has been christened “The Modi Doctrine” by Nisha Desai Biswal, the US’ Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist has been critical of the burgeoning ties with the US.

“The Modi government has clearly abandoned India’s longstanding policy of developing good neighbourly relations and also the “Look East Policy”. The government has to answer against whom is India becoming a priority partner of the USA in the region,” a statement from the party politburo said.

Reacting to this, Mahtab took potshots at the Marxist party and wondered: “I do not know who the comrades are trying to impress. Is it aimed towards Beijing?”

A number of BJP leaders, especially from the party’s foreign policy department, say that not only with the US, but also with other countries, Prime Minister Modi has tried a new road map to establish enhanced ties.

“Modi seems to have done his homework well prior to all key meetings. His handshakes are firm and more than once he has taken note of the minutest things, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s birthday in 2014 when Modi was hardly a month in office,” a BJP leader told IANS declining to be named.

“Effective homework about each leader and government has come in handy for Modi when the actually meeting takes place. Modi often uses carefully tailored oneliners with each leader at every bilateral meeting and these have gone off well,” the party leader said.

Engaging with China during the last two years, despite the unease in ties, Modi did not seem to be bogged down by any “bitterness of the past”, said the BJP leader.

“He has tried to carry SAARC along and also tried the same while engaging with BRICS,” the leader said.

Blogger and political commentator Sunanda Vashisht feels: “Modi doctrine is a new genre of diplomacy. It can be defined as diplomacy for development.”

But Modi’s seeming tilt towards the US has invited criticism from a key ally, Shiv Sena.

In a sarcastic dig at the Prime Minister, the Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ wrote: “The US President has become a good friend of PM Modi. Their relationship is so deep that we wonder if the Obama family will shift to Surat, Rajkot, Porbandar, Manali, Mahabaleshwar or Delhi post his retirement.”

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