BJP chief lost in translation in US
Washington: He came, he saw, but was he able to conquer America and Indian Americans with his simple charming ways? That was the moot question as Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh was ending his five-day visit, dogged as he was by controversy ever since his arrival - over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Dressed in his trademark white dhoti kurta with a striped dark blue Nehru jacket, he came to the National Press Club in Washington, just a couple of blocks away from the White House, Wednesday, to explain his mission US to the Indian media over breakfast.
But even as Indian journalists, writing for both Indian and American publications, offered to let him talk in “Hindi or English, whatever you are comfortable with”, the first question after the customary introductions inevitably focused on Modi.
Choosing to speak in Hindi with journalists hailing from Bihar to Kerala also making it a point to pose questions in India’s national language, he tried hard to dispel the impression that he had “virtually anointed Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate” or that he had come to the US to get the Gujarat chief minister a US visa.
Reports that he had projected Modi as such during his first interaction with the media in New York Saturday were just a creation of the media, said Rajnath Singh denying that he had ever suggested that he would take up the issue of denial of US visa to Modi with US lawmakers.
“This is a US administration issue, not our issue,” he said. And at times when he spoke about more ‘complex’ issues like BJP’s support for economic reforms or how its foreign policy would be different from the current Congress-led government if it came to power, he would touch party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi on the arm saying ‘translate’.
And sitting on his left, Trivedi would more embellish than translate his chief’s answers with examples from former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s times to assert that BJP was pro-reform and its foreign policy, though not much different, would have its own perspective. But through Rajnath Singh insisted he was not here to sell Modi or get him a visa and his mission simply was to build ‘stronger economic and strategic ties’ with the US. agencies