India’s Modi quick on Twitter diplomacy, slow to mention US

NEW DELHI: India’s prime minister-elect Narendra Modi has taken to Twitter to thank fellow leaders in Japan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Australia for their support, but one man still waiting for a reply is US Secretary of State John Kerry.

While Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper has had two mentions and Russian President Putin received warm words on Monday, Modi has conspicuously made no reference at all to the leaders of the world’s superpower.

Washington, along with European powers, boycotted the 63-year-old for a decade and denied him a visa over religious violence in 2002 during his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat state that left about 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead.

Kerry tweeted congratulations to Modi on Friday after a landslide win for his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, saying he looked forward to “growing shared prosperity/security”.

President Barack Obama telephoned Modi but is yet to comment in person. He had warm words for his predecessor on Saturday, however.

As Manmohan Singh left office after 10 years in power, Obama called to tell him that that there were “very few people in public life that I have admired or appreciated more.”

Modi has displayed no rancour publicly about his treatment by Washington, telling an interviewer earlier this month that foreign relations “should not and cannot be influenced by incidents related to individuals”.

But analysts are looking closely at how the world’s biggest democracies embrace each other with Modi at the helm and following a highly damaging spat over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York in December.

Modi, writing on Twitter to his 4.19 million followers, addressed a message to Russian President Putin on Monday saying that he looked forward “to making our relations with Russia even stronger in the years to come.”

Japanese premier Shinzo Abe meanwhile was thanked for his good wishes

“Personally, I have a wonderful experience of working with Japan as CM (chief minister). I am sure we will take India-Japan ties to newer heights,” he wrote.

Modi was chief minister of Gujarat in 2002 when anti-Muslim riots broke out and, although he has never been found guilty of wrongdoing, the failure of his administration to control the violence left a legacy of suspicion.

Investigators have never found evidence to prosecute him, but a woman he later appointed to his cabinet was jailed for life for orchestrating some of the worst of the killing.

Modi was refused a visa to the United States in 2005.

Britain also boycotted Modi, but British Prime Minister David Cameron sent a message of congratulations on Friday which was acknowledged by Modi the day after.

“Hoping to further strengthen India-UK relations,” he wrote.