Wharton management deliberating on allowing Modi to speak

Intervention by management for the first time, says students’ body.

Narendra Modi; Photo credit: www.narendramodi.in
Narendra Modi; Photo credit: www.narendramodi.in

Bureau Report

WASHINGTON, DC: The controversial chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi, who was listed as a speaker at the Wharton India conference, may not be allowed to talk after all ashe management of the business school has intervened and is deliberating on the issue with the student body which organizes the meet annually.

Modi, whose visa to the US was revoked in the aftermath of 2002 riots in Gujarat, was approached by the Wharton School’s students’ body which organizes the forum and he had agreed to deliver a key note address at the meet through video conference. But sources now say that the management has reservations over his inclusion in the speakers’ list and might ask for his name to be dropped, reported NDTV.

The management and the students’ body at Wharton School are reportedly holding talks over the matter. A decision is expected to be out soon.

The speakers for the India-centric meet are usually chosen by the students’ body. Sources say this is the first time the administration has intervened in their decision. Since its inception 16 years ago, Wharton India Economic Forum has emerged as one of the largest and most prestigious India-focused business conferences that provide a platform for leaders to discuss the opportunities present in India and the challenges that need to be addressed.

A student from the group of organizers told NDTV that they invited Modi because they were impressed with Gujarat’s growth story.

Last month, Modi had faced protests while delivering a speech at Delhi’s prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). As he addressed an audience of 1800 students inside the college, a group of students raised slogans and protested against him outside saying the invitation to him overlooked the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 in which 1200 people were killed while he was in office. The police had to use water cannons and canes to control the protests. Modi was picked by SRCC students over other potential speakers in an internal poll.

Modi has faced opposition in the US from several other quarters in the past. A group of US powerful lawmakers had earlier in a public appeal to the Obama administration, asked it not to change the ‘good policy’ of denying visa to Modi because of allegations of ‘crime against humanity’ against him.

Among other eminent guests invited for the day-long forum on March 23rd in Philadelphia this year are Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Union Minister of State for IT and Communications Milind Deora, chairman of the Adani Group Gautam Adani, actress Shabana Azmi and poet and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar.

Earlier, keynote speakers have included former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, BJP leader Varun Gandhi and industrialist Anil Ambani.

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