India's Narendra Modi finally found time to meet visiting Canada PM Justin Trudeau on Friday, February 23, morning at a ceremonial guard of honor. Trudeau and family have been in India since February 17 and Modi's visible lack of enthusiasm in meeting them did not escape the national press.
On Friday, when Modi finally strolled out to inspect the guard of honor with the visiting Canadian first family, and national television beamed out the images, that lack of warmth was clearly visible. Modi, of course, did go through the motions, patting the junior Trudeaus and exchanging pleasantries with Justin and his wife Sophie. But the exuberance and atmospherics of Modi's meetings with some other foreign dignitaries like, say, former United States president Barack Obama, were not there. And it was not very hard to miss.
The Indian PM on Thursday posted an image on Twitter from his Canada trip in 2015 and said that he was particularly excited to meet Trudeau's children, but that excitement too was not very evident. "I hope PM Justin Trudeau and his family had a very enjoyable stay so far. I particularly look forward to meeting his children Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien," he wrote.
I hope PM @JustinTrudeau and his family had a very enjoyable stay so far. I particularly look forward to meeting his children Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien. Here is a picture from my 2015 Canada visit, when I'd met PM Trudeau and Ella-Grace. pic.twitter.com/Ox0M8EL46x— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 22, 2018
Amid all this, what one can't help but wonder is if Modi has a damage control plan in place, considering the Canadian PM's India visit has been marred by several controversies.
If Modi not meeting Trump until now wasn't strange enough, a Khalistani terrorist was invited to a formal dinner reception of Trudeau. Jaspal Atwal, a former Sikh separatist who was found guilty of attempting to murder Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986, was invited to the dinner in New Delhi on Thursday, after he met Canada's first family on Mumbai on February 20.
After massive outrage, Canadian high commissioner Nadir Patel retracted the invitation.
"The high commission has rescinded Mr Atwal's invitation. We do not comment on matters relating to the PM's security," the mission said.
The Canadian PM also said that the invitation should not have been sent at all.
"Obviously, we take this extremely seriously. He should never have received an invitation. As soon as we received the info we rescinded it, a member of Parliament had included this individual," said Trudeau.