Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times
London, July 23, 2014

A Spanish member of the European parliament (MEP) has raised many eyebrows by tabling a written question about Prime Minister Narendra Modi that revealed a lack or selective knowledge about India and its facts.

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, who is part of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe (ALDE), addressed the question to the European Commission vice-president, and called on the EU to address the “issue of inequality” in India.

According to her, Modi has a “highly problematic history of racism”, and that following the 2002 Gujarat riots, the United Kingdom had “announced a 10-year boycott”, when there was no such “announcement” at the time.

Revealing another instance of selective knowledge, the MEP claimed that “During his electoral campaign, Modi reiterated his rhetoric on immigration, calling for all non-Hindus to leave India and go back to their own countries”.

Prominent London-based industrialist Lord Paul told HT: “The Indian voters have made a decision after knowing all facts. They are very mature in making their decisions. As the election has proved, India is quite capable of managing its own affairs without gratuitous suggestions cloaked in the guise of western wisdom”.

Barandica, who hails from the Basque region of Spain, wrote: “India’s population includes a large number of minority groups who typically live in extremely poor conditions”.

She goes on to ask three questions under Rule 30:

“What steps will the EU take, in cooperation with the Indian Government, to address the issue of inequality in India?”

“Is this issue of social, racial and religious discrimination part of the ongoing EU-India Free Trade Agreement negotiations?”

“Considering the fact that national policies on minorities could potentially pose a threat to peace and security in South Asia, is the EU pursuing a collective agreement with countries in the region to address such concerns?”

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