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'Not a Banana Republic': Anger Grows in India Over Biden's Envoy to New Delhi Pick

© AP Photo / Marcio Jose SanchezThen-Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a news conference near SoFi Stadium, on Feb. 2, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.
Then-Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a news conference near SoFi Stadium, on Feb. 2, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.03.2023
With the departure of Kenneth Juster, after Joe Biden assumed power in 2021, the post of US Ambassador to India has remained vacant for two years.
Prospective American Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti is facing renewed backlash in the South Asian nation over his stance on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), domestic legislation strongly advocated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Garcetti previously stated that taking up “human rights violations” in India with his Indian counterpart would form a “core” part of his responsibility, should he be confirmed as Washington’s envoy to New Delhi.

“Absolutely.. I will not only bring it up.. It would not just be an obligation.. It will be a core part of what I do,” Garcetti told a US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in December 2021 on being asked if he would take up the issue of CAA with his Indian counterparts.

Garcetti is a close ally of US President Joe Biden and a former mayor of Los Angeles.
The US Senate Committee voted 13-8 in favor of Garcetti’s nomination as the next Ambassador to New Delhi last week, and later today, the US Senate is set to vote on his nomination, which in effect is the final hurdle before the Democrat politician heads to India.

‘India is not a Banana Republic’

Former Indian Ambassador and strategic affairs expert Anil Trigunayat has cautioned Garcetti against raking up issues which are beyond the “competence and credibility” of the western governments.
Trigunayat told Sputnik that Garcetti has “overlooked” human rights’ violations and “the democracy deficit” in America’s own backyard.

“Hence the prospective US Ambassador, who is a politician, has made similar noises forgetting that India is not a Banana republic. If he indeed gets posted here, hopefully, he will see the things as they are rather than through a colored prism of preconceived notions,” Trigunayat stated.

Foreign Interference Won't Be Tolerated in India

Influential HIndu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has sought to remind Garcetti that the CAA is an “internal matter” of India.
Furthermore, Vinod Bansal, the official spokesperson of the VHP, told Sputnik that Garcetti should first “introspect” the human rights situation in his own country before taking up these matters with the Indian government.
“The very fact that a person who has such biased notions about human rights situation in India has been nominated to be the Ambassador to New Delhi is reflective of the mindset,” Bansal stated.
Activists of the Democratic Youth Front of India hold a public screening of BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” outside a bus terminus in Kochi, India, Tuesday, Jan.24, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.03.2023
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“Nobody has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of Bharat (India), the world’s largest democracy,” he added.
Bansal, whose organization has firmly backed the CAA, said that the legislation is meant to provide refuge to persecuted minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan: “through the CAA, India is trying to help the victims of oppression. How could it be discriminatory?”
Members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have also warned Garcetti of raking up issues that may have a bearing on India-US ties.
Abhinav Prakash, national vice-president of BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), cautioned on Wednesday that Garcetti’s remarks could contribute to “anti-west sentiment” in India.
Former BJP MP Tarun Vijay has labelled Garcetti as “ignorant” for his remarks.
“Sending an envoy with a political agenda to interfere in our domestic issues with false notions must not be acceptable,” he said.

What is Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)?

Passed by the Indian parliament in 2019, the CAA seeks to fast-track citizenship applications for non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Critics of the CAA, which include Muslim groups, suggest that the legislation could later be used to strip Muslims in India of their citizenship.
The CAA led to widespread street protests against the government in 2020, also leading to Hindu-Muslim sectarian clashes in Delhi.
The federal government, including Home Minister Amit Shah, has repeatedly assured the Parliament that CAA does not pose any threat to any minority living in the country.