Canadian PM Justin Trudeau must be regretting his tour to India. In recent memory, there has hardly been any visiting Head of State who has faced so much backlash from both the sides. Ever since Trudeau embarked on his week-long trip to India one controversy after the another has erupted which doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon.
On Thursday, a huge controversy erupted when Canadian High Commissioner to India, Nadir Patel invited Jaspal Atwal, a convicted Khalistani terrorist for a dinner which he was hosting for the visiting dignitaries. Atwal, who was an active member of the banned International Sikh Youth Federation, was snapped with Trudeau’s wife and Infrastructure& Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi at the dinner hosted by the High Commission. Amarjeet Sohi previously has been accused of being a Khalistani sympathizer by Captain Amarinder Singh. The Canada High Commission went a step further and invited Atwal for having dinner with Trudeau. The invitation was rescinded after much uproar and it remains to be seen whether it was a case of soft support to Khalistani terrorists or pure naivety on part of Trudeau.
As if stuck in a never-ending loop of embarrassing himself and simultaneously insulting India, it was found that Canadian journalist Manvir Singh Saini, someone who believes India is illegally occupying ‘Khalistan’, was a part of the delegation that visited India, so much so that he attended all the official functions with Justin Trudeau. While the left-leaning journalists like Sagarika Ghose and Malini Parthasarathy accused the Indian Government of insulting Trudeau and praised the latter for handling the insults maturely, the presence of Manvir Singh Saini in Trudeau’s delegation tells a different story.
When PM Modi visited Canada in 2015, Manvir Singh Saini was snapped holding banners that said, “Modi is a Terrorist”, “Modi you are not welcome in Canada” and “India out of Khalistan” with Air India One in the background which went viral in no time. Despite such strong evidence of his anti-India bias, Manvir Singh Saini was a part of the Trudeau delegation which met PM Modi. Manvir Singh Saini works for a Canadian TV channel, TV84, run by Dr Amarjit Singh.
Right from the onset, Trudeau’s trip was doomed to fail. The argument that Trudeau was insulted falls flat when the schedule of the trip was such that it was more of an expensive holiday if anything else. A Head of State spending eight days in a foreign country for official purposes is little heard of. Especially given the fact that Trudeau’s schedule involved only half day of official engagements, that too on the final day of the trip. The government received a lot of flak from some sections of media when Yogi Adityanath and Vijay Rupani didn’t meet Trudeau when the latter visited their respective states. There were murmurs of PM Modi hosting Trudeau when the latter visited Ahmedabad given the fact that the city falls in PM’s home state. However, the schedule was such that even a Chief Minister can’t be expected to waste his time to host Trudeau, let alone the Prime Minister of India. His visits to both the states were nothing but a photo-op and an overdoing of traditional clothes, something which Karan Johar can be proud of.
PM Modi taught a lesson or two in leadership to Trudeau in a span of a week. Trudeau when asked whether he will meet Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh when he visits India answered, “Not really”. While his own party might not have stood up for him, but Modi being the statesman that he is, ensured that Trudeau met Amarinder Singh, something which wasn’t part of his schedule. While Trudeau discussed improving business relations with Punjab, Captain handed Trudeau a list of 9 Khalistani sympathizers residing in Canada who are playing an active role in trying to sow the seeds of discontent among the Indian Sikhs. PM Modi also made sure that Trudeau is left with no place to hide when in a joint statement he said that he will not tolerate forces that are trying to divide India.
First the reluctance to meet Amarinder Singh then the presence of Atwal and now the presence of Manvir Singh Saini – As his trip ends, Trudeau has been completely exposed. Trudeau now will return to his country who has seen through his leadership, facing questions about the need for such a long trip with little official engagement.