New Delhi: Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu has decided to cancel his visit to Wharton as a mark of protest against the cancellation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's keynote address at the Wharton Indian Economic Forum. Prabhu, a former NDA power minister, is a member of the India Economic Forum at Wharton. Prabhu said he regards the university's volte-face on Modi an insult to the country.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party has finally reacted to the cancellation of Modi's keynote address at the Wharton India Economic Forum. Calling it a 'small incident', BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said, "It's not foreigners who will be voting for Modi, it's the Indian people."
"The world community is coming to take his help. There have been mixed message coming from the world community. They will come around finally," Javadekar added.
The Wharton School forum cancelled Modi's address saying it fears polarising reactions if Modi is invited, after a group of professors and students at Wharton had protested at his invitation. Modi was scheduled to deliver that keynote address via video conference later this month.
The organisers said that a prominent Indian leader will delivering the address, whose name will be announced soon. The organising committee of the prestigious annual event apologised for putting the university and the Wharton School administration in a "difficult position".
Modi was invited to deliver the keynote address at the Forum to be held in Philadelphia on March 22 to 23 via video conference. "We hope to have Mr Modi speak at a more appropriate forum where he can interact with students without the distraction of this kind of attention," the statement said.
A group of Wharton's professors and students had written a strongly-worded letter saying they are outraged to learn that the Forum has invited Modi as a keynote speaker. The letter noted, "This is the same politician who was refused a diplomatic visa by the United States State Department on March 18, 2005 on the ground that he, as Chief Minister, did nothing to prevent a series of orchestrated riots that targeted Muslims in Gujarat."
Among other eminent invited guests to the conference include Milind Deora, the Union Minister of State for IT and Communications; Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group; actress Shabana Azmi, poet and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia is also expected to address the forum on March 23.
(With additional information from PTI)