By Arul Louis
New York, Sep 22 (IANS) As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not the head of state like President Joe Biden, but the head of government, his equivalent in protocol is Vice President Kamala Harris, who is partly of Indian origin, and she will be the formal host.
He is scheduled to meet with her on Friday.
Harris has had a tense relationship with Modi’s administration after criticising External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in 2019 for refusing to meet with the House Foreign Affairs Committee of Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-origin member of the House Representatives, who was not a member of the panel included in the meeting.
Jayapal had introduced a resolution criticising India over Kashmir.
“It’s wrong for any foreign government to tell Congress what members are allowed in meetings on Capitol Hill,” Harris said condescendingly at the time as if an Indian minister should not have the right to decide who he wants to meet.
She has desisted from criticism of India after becoming vice president, but her niece Meena Harris has supported the farmers’ agitation and attacked the Indian government.
Although Harris had spoken to several world leaders soon after becoming vice president, she had a phone conversation with Modi only in June when she discussed Biden’s offer to send vaccines to India from the US stockpile when it suffered a Covid surge.
Any misgivings may have healed and Modi tweeted, “I deeply appreciate the assurance of vaccine supplies to India as part of the US Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing. I also thanked her for all the support and solidarity from the US government, businesses and Indian diaspora.”
Modi may invite Harris to visit the homeland of her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris.
When Modi visited Washington in 2016, Biden, who was then the vice president, was the formal host.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed @arulouis)