British envoy undermines protocol, meets Modi on polls eve

British High Commissioner James Bevan’s meeting with Narendra Modi in Gujarat on Monday is a gross violation of India’s sovereignty and the electoral code of conduct, leaving aside the purpose behind it, which amounts to interference in our domestic politics.

Smacking the days of British Raj when the country’s principalities were divided and conquered by the British to establish two centuries of uninterrupted suzerainty over India, UK diplomat has visited Modi apparently to “discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest and to explore opportunities for closer cooperation, in line with the British Government’s stated objective of improving bilateral relations with India.”

Bilateral ties should end at New Delhi but meeting state chief ministers, that too those projected to be future leaders of the country, that too when elections are taking place amounts to undermining New Delhi’s power.
In fact, Britain’s and even the European Union’s move in the first place to impose a 10-year boycott of Modi in 2002 for the death of three British nationals was uncalled for and a knee-jerk reaction to some internal developments. Ending the boycott at a time when the state is undergoing elections shows how foreign governments wish to interfere in the domestic politics of our country.

As former rulers of India, the British may be aware of Indian sentiments and know when to support whom and vice versa but that does not mean every province will now have its own foreign policy or needs to be engaged by the foreign mission. The Ministry of External Affairs should immediately wake up and condemn such dangerous moves by diplomatic missions in the country and redefine the rules of protocol in such meetings and occasions.

If allowed, all diplomatic missions in the country would soon start engaging in nurturing individual leaders across the country and, if required, even those in Pakistan pulling the strings here.

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