India PM Narendra Modi (L) with US President Donald Trump
India PM Narendra Modi (L) with US President Donald Trump

Ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit to India, the Congress on Sunday whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi would raise important questions on national interest.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi would raise with him the issue of easing H-1B visas, restoration of GSP status and security concerns over Taliban. Surjewala further questioned PM Modi's silence about about "India First" as President Trump talked of "America First".

In a series of tweets with short videos, Surjewala raised the issues of H-1B visas, Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme as well as the agreement between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"Trump Government's restrictive immigration policies have hit H-1B visas. Indians get 70 pc of 85000 H-1B Visas. Now, Rejection Rate for India has increased from 6 pc in 2015 to 24 pc in 2019, especially for IT professionals. Post 10 million people gala event, Will PM Modi ask for easing H-1B visas," he asked on Twitter.

Surjewala said as US prepares to sign a deal with Taliban on February 29, what about India's red lines. "Have we forgotten IC-814 hijacking and release of terrorist Masood Azhar in Kandhar, who's JeM then attacked Parliament and Pulwama? As gala bash unfolds, Will Modiji raise our National Security concerns," he said.

The Congress leader said continuing since 1974, the US removed India from Duty Free Imports i.e GSP (generalised system of preferences) on 5 June, 2019. It has affected the USD 5.6 billion Indian exports to the US, especially gems, jewellery, rice, leather, he noted. "Post 'Howdy Modi' and 'Namaste Trump' gala events, Will PM ensure restoration of GSP status," he asked.

Surjewala said up till 2018, India imported 250 crore ton Crude Oil/month from Iran on Rupee payment, 90 days credit and doorstep delivery. "As fest continues in Ahmedabad, Will Modiji secure cheaper oil for India," he asked.

The Congress leader alleged that India's exports of USD 761 million of steel to the US fell by 50 pc to USD 372 million as the Trump Government hiked tariffs on import by 25 pc. "As India commits to USD 3 billion Defense purchases, why zero relief for India's export of steel?"

US President Donald Trump and wife Melania Trump, who are visiting India on February 24-25, will be accompanied by daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. The four are scheduled to travel to Ahmedabad and then to Agra, where they will see the Taj Mahal, before arriving in New Delhi.

This will be Trump's first official tour to India. The visiting dignitary is also expected to attend an event at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad, named 'Namaste Trump,' on the lines of the 'Howdy Modi' function that was addressed by the US President and Modi in Houston in September last year.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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