Having previously been banned from entering the United States, the Indian Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi "will be welcomed" to the United States, the White House said in a surprise announcement, Friday.
Soon after the Hindu Nationalist party headed by Modi won the election by a massive landslide, America was quick to react over the development, lest they risk blemishing the India-US relationship, which is dubbed critical especially to counter-balance the Chinese rising power.
Obama told Modi by telephone that he looked forward to working closely with him to "fulfill the extraordinary promise of the US-India strategic partnership," the White House said.
"The president invited Narendra Modi to visit Washington at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen our bilateral relationship," it added, raising a few eyebrows back in India and prompting others to appraise the political ingenuity of the United States that seeks to quickly counter the foreseeable strategic implication with the rise of Modi in power.
It is important for the Obama administration to ensure that its relationship with India rises in mutually respectable foundation, at a time when the two countries are still waking up from a heated row after a junior Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, was arrested and strip-searched in New York last year.
Washington's view on Modi had never been favorable. He has been implicated in the Gujurat riots where he is considered to have done little to stop thousands of Muslims from being massacred. New York Times' take on the Indian election headlined as "For Nation's Persecuted Muslim Minority, Caution Follows Hindu Party's Victory," tends to speak volumes on how Modi is being looked at from the US' lens.
It is, nevertheless, important for US to take the first step towards building an impression that they will cooperate with his government. Modi's new administration, more importantly, has been predicted to be the most business and investment friendly for the United States.
But the White House's quick change of position over Modi, soon after he won the majority of votes, tends to project Obama administration's quick attempt in resolving the tensions between him and the United States in the past, lest it has an impact on relations during his term that could potentially mean getting abandoned by a country that could benefit the US in more than a few ways.
The Unites States denied Modi a visa over the anti-Muslim violence in 2005 – suggesting a strained relationship between Washington and the new Prime Minister in India. There tends to be a feeling that Narendra Modi will be much more pro-China than pro-US for the simple reason that he was denied a visa by the US while China had laid out the red-carpet for him.