Reported By: Zakka Jacob
Last Updated: August 12, 2023, 08:01 IST
New Delhi, India
Khanna said he was excited to be going to the Red Fort with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to celebrate Independence Day as his grandfather was part of the freedom movement. (File pic/AFP)
A high-powered delegation of US members of Congress will visit Delhi next week with United States congressman Ro Khanna leading it. Khanna, who recently met representatives of a “coalition of Indian-American organisations” including Hindus for Human Rights, the Indian-American Muslim Council, and India Civil Watch International in Washington, reportedly “expressed his desire to protect minority rights in India”. Speaking exclusively with CNN-News18 from Mumbai, he said, “It’s a historic delegation. We’re so excited that we are gonna be at the Red Fort with the Prime Minister celebrating India’s independence. And for me, it has personal meaning as my grandfather as you know was part of the freedom movement. He was jailed for many years. And to see that moment is wonderful."
Khanna underscored the significance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the US and the growing cooperation between both nations in various arenas.
“He (Modi) was in the United States. And it was a very successful partnership between the United States and India. There is increasing cooperation on defence. That’s why we are here in Mumbai with the Western Naval Command…On technology, on the economy…There’s cultural cooperation. We are excited we are gonna be meeting Amitabh Bachchan. We met Anupam Kher," said the US congressman.
Of course, he added, it all has to be ultimately rooted in the values of democracy, openness of the press, pluralism, and minority rights. “But I’m very, very bullish on the United States-India partnership. I have always been clear that the India-United States relationship has to be grounded on pluralism. It has to be grounded on minority rights. We have to condemn violence against any religious institutions. And we will continue to speak out for those values," he said.
Speaking on the recent US ban on several Chinese companies, he emphasised on the need to be prudent. “We invented semiconductor technology. We can’t be giving the advanced designs, the advanced tools to China that they could then use that technology to build their navy, build their military. As it is, China has the leading amount of ships. So those are prudent export controls to make sure the more sensitive technology doesn’t get to China. But I’m very excited about the United States and India’s defence. We are doing a joint military exercise at Malabar. We are doing joint exercises with the navy,” he said.
When questioned about recent Khalistani protests in the US, Khanna appeared guarded. “India is a sovereign country and I recognise the sovereignty of India,” he said. On being pushed further, he added that the United States doesn’t recognise any of these separatist movements.
Asked about his India itinerary, Khanna said, “We are meeting the head of the Western Naval Command. That’s very important for protection in the Arabian Sea. We are seeing military exercises. We are seeing Anand Mahindra, leaders of Reliance, leaders at IIT. And the highlight, of course, Amitabh Bachchan, who is an icon still around the world. And Anupam Kher whom we had the opportunity to meet and who is helping so many actors.”
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Reported By: Zakka Jacob