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Mar 04, 2013 at 06:31pm IST

Wharton snub a bump in Modi's smooth road to bigger political role?

New Delhi: A day after he was feted at the BJP's National Council, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi received the snub. In a statement overnight, the US's top business school Wharton's India Economic Forum cancelled Modi's keynote address. In its statement, Wharton said, "Our team felt that the potential polarising reactions from sub-segments of the alumni base, student body, and our supporters, might put Mr Modi in a compromising position, which we would like to avoid at all costs."

The statement set off a political storm in Delhi, with the BJP slamming Wharton's move. Prakash Javadekar said, "Indian people vote for him (Modi), not Americans." Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena's Suresh Prabhu cancelled his talk at the forum saying it was an insult to the nation.

There were also reports that the Adani group, the Forum's chief sponsor, and one of Modi's chief business patrons, was planning to pull its money out.

The organisers said they were worried with many professors and students at Wharton and other Universities threatening to hold protests on the college campus against Modi. But many also say that the worry that inviting Modi to speak via video-conference would have challenged US state policy, could have led them to cancel the programme. The embarrassment could have been avoided, if Wharton had considered the protests before inviting Modi to speak.

The cancellation is certainly a bump in what Modi supporters hoped would be a smooth road in his attempt to reach out beyond his state, especially after he was practically anointed for a national role by his own party.

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