President Donald Trump was surprised in 2017, as he didn’t expect that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would give him a huge hug. Before the Indian PM’s arrival at the White House, President Trump had no idea about his guest’s ‘hugplomacy’.
Experts opine that the PM’s ‘hugplomacy’ has added a new dimension to diplomacy. In the last four years, Modi greeted many world leaders, including former US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in that way. Considering this, it may be stated that Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada (the second largest country by area), was treated somewhat differently upon his arrival in India on February 18 for a seven-day tour.
Prime Minister Modi was not present at the airport to receive PM Trudeau and his family. Even External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj didn’t receive the visiting premier. This time, the Modi government sent Indian Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to welcome Trudeau. Moreover, PM Modi did not write a single word on the Canadian PM’s visit on the social media.
As expected, the Indian PM’s ‘unusual’ behaviour casts doubt over the future of India-Canada ties. However, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement that the two PMs discussed various important bilateral, regional and global issues during their meeting in New Delhi on Friday and agreed to boost trade ties. According to some senior Indian diplomats, the meeting between Modi and Trudeau was a routine one and it’s a fact that the Indian government’s gesture towards the Canadian PM was unusual.
Ahead of his meeting with PM Modi, Trudeau visited Taj Mahal and western Indian province of Gujarat. Surprisingly, no senior Indian official accompanied him on those trips. But PM Modi accompanied the Chinese, Japanese and Israeli leaders in recent past when they visited different Indian cities. Although a section of the opposition camp said that the PM of India (the seventh largest country by area) was (intentionally) ignoring Canada, the government denied the allegation, stressing that the PM was busy.
According to sources close to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, PM Modi ignored his Canadian counterpart because of the latter’s support for the ‘Khalistani’ movement. The PM has sent a very clear message to his guest: Canada is a friend, but India does not support any separatist movement.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Trudeau rubbished the allegation, as he pointedly said that Canada has always “supported one united India”. He claimed that his government was not soft on Sikh separatists, saying: “My position and Canada’s position has not changed. We support one united India.” He further said: “We will continue to advocate for one united India and that is something core to what Canada is. Canada has been unequivocal – myself, all my ministers, my government – on a policy of one united India. We have been very strong on that and will continue to be.” Trudeau’s comment is very significant as a section of Indian-origin people in Canada wants the PM to publicly denounce Khalistani extremists.
There is another explanation, too. It is said that PM Modi does not forget ‘humiliation’. Trudeau didn’t receive him at the airport when the Indian PM arrived in Canada in 2016. And he possibly remembers the incident.
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