‘NIAPPI funded US delegation’s India visit’

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) Amid a row over financing of an American delegation’s visit to meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a US lawmaker Wednesday claimed it was sponsored by “an educational foundation”.

US House of Representative member Cynthia Lummis, who was in the delegation that met Modi on March 28, said the visit was mainly sponsored by National Indian American Public Policy Institute (NIAPPI) and was cleared by the house ethics committee of the US Congress.

Hi India, an ethnic Indian newspaper in Chicago, reported that organisers of the US delegation to India that met Modi had canvassed for participants in the trip at prices ranging from $3,000 to $16,000.

Lummis, who was in the capital to take part in a reception hosted by NIAPPI and Delhi Study group, said they had paid part of the expenses themselves.

“It was cleared by the house ethics committee,” Lummis told IANS.

House of Representatives member Aaron Schock, who too was part of the delegation that met Modi, also attended the reception.

The delegation from the US met Modi March 28 and lauded the economic development of the state under his watch.

The meeting had assumed significance as the US has been denying Modi a visa for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), Cathy M. Rodgers, Republican Congresswoman from Washington state, apart from Cynthia Lummis and Aaron Schock were members of the delegation that met Modi.

NIAPPI chairman Shalabh Kumar said the US delegation’s visit to India was a trade mission.

“A flexible package was offered (to those) who wanted to do business with India,” he said.

Kumar said the visit took place in accordance with US laws.

“Who pays…is not a report available publicly,” he said.

Kumar said the US business delegation will visit Punjab before flying back to the US.

Vijay Jolly, president, Delhi Study Group, who is also convenor of Overseas Friends of BJP, said the delegation members had spent their own money during their visit to India.

“There was no sponsorship of government of India, the US government, Gujarat government or the BJP,” he said.

He said the US delegation invited Modi to the US and he had accepted it.

“There was no talk of visa,” Jolly said.

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