Ahead of Trump’s visit, Congress poses 5 questions to PM Modi

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asks prime minister if he would ask Trump to ease H-1B visas, restore India's GSP status and raise security concerns over Taliban

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US President Trump is on a visit to India from February 24 and 25. Photo: PTI

Just a day ahead of US president Donald Trump’s visit to India, Congress has posed a set of five questions pertaining to US-India relations, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a series of videos on Twitter on Sunday (February 23), Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked Modi if he would raise the issue of easing H-1B visas, restoration of GSP status, security concerns over Taliban as well as demand relief for India’s steel exports and cheaper oil prices.

Alluding to Trump’s recent statement that he would put ‘America First’ during his talks with Modi, Surjewala asked Modi if he would put ‘India First’.

“India’s exports of $761 million of Steel to US fell by 50% to $372 million as Trump government hiked tariffs on import by 25%. As India commits to $3 billion defense purchases, why zero relief for India’s export of steel? @POTUS (Trump) says America first, why is PM quiet on India first?” he tweeted.


Stating how the US government’s restriction on immigration has made it difficult for Indians to get H-1B visas, he asked if Modi will ask Trump to ease the visa-grant process.

“Trump government’s restrictive immigration policies have hit H-1B visas. Indians get 70 per cent of 85000 H-1B Visas. Now, Rejection Rate for India has increased from 6 per cent in 2015 to 24 per cent in 2019, especially for IT professionals. Post 10 million people gala event, will PM Modi ask for easing H-1B visas,” he asked on Twitter.

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He also asked whether Modi would ensure cheaper oil for India after it stopped buying oil from Iran in view of sanctions and if Indian steel exports would get a boost after India commits to USD 3 billion defence purchases.

Surjewala said as US prepares to sign a deal with Taliban on February 29, what about India’s red lines. “Have we forgotten IC-814 hijacking and release of terrorist Masood Azhar in Kandhar, who’s JeM then attacked Parliament and Pulwama? As gala bash unfolds, Will Modiji raise our National Security concerns,” he said.

The Congress leader said continuing since 1974, the US removed India from duty free Imports i.e. GSP (generalised system of preferences) on June 5, 2019. It has affected the USD 5.6 billion Indian exports to the US, especially gems, jewellery, rice, leather, he noted.
“Post Howdy Modi and Namaste Trump gala events, Will PM ensure restoration of GSP status,” he asked.

Surjewala said up till 2018, India imported 250 crore ton Crude Oil/month from Iran on Rupee payment, 90 days credit and doorstep delivery. The Modi government stopped buying cheaper Iran oil as per US sanctions that raised oil prices in India, he alleged.

“As fest continues in Ahmedabad, Will Modiji secure cheaper oil for India,” he asked. The Congress leader alleged that India’s exports of USD 761 million of steel to the US fell by 50 pc to USD 372 million as the Trump government hiked tariffs on import by 25 pc.

US President Trump is on a visit to India from February 24 and 25.

(With inputs from agencies)

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