Powell seen as anti-Modi over the years.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: The US Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, will likely be replaced later this year, an effort by the Obama administration to repair ties with the Indian government and BJP candidate Narendra Modi, who is increasingly looking like India’s next Prime Minister, says a report.
The US wants to “clean the slate” and repair ties with India as much as they can. A big step in doing so would be to make Modi, the heir apparent to the most powerful position in Indian government, as happy as possible, said a report in The Hindustan Times.
Part of that was accomplished earlier this month, when Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal told Indian officials during her visit to the country that the US would welcome Modi, effectively negating his long-standing visa issue. Now, it looks like Powell will be thrown under the bus to further appease the Gujarat Chief Minister, who apparently has not taken too kindly to America’s leading foreign dignitary to India.
According to a senior-level BJP member, who spoke anonymously with Times, Powell has been fingered as being the main thorn in Modi’s side. The source said that she has been the main proponent for denying Modi a visa over the past few years, and is said to have been against meeting with Modi earlier this year, in Gandhinagar.
The US-India relationship has taken several well-documented hits over the last year. Chief among them was the US arrest of Devyani Khobragade, the Indian Deputy Consul General, in December of last year. Compounding matters were repeated sanctions and other disciplinary actions brought down by the US on India’s airline, pharmaceutical, and solar energy sectors, the latter of which prompted a case to be taken to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Powell became the Ambassador to India last year, assuming office on April 19. Previously, she was the US Ambassador to Nepal (2007-2010), Pakistan (2002-2004), Ghana (2001-2002), and Uganda (1997-1999). A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Powell has also served as the Director General of the United States Foreign Service, a position she held between her postings in Nepal and India.
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