In the wake of a recent diplomatic standoff with Canada, officials from the Gujarat government announced on Thursday that they will require “political clearance” from the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) before sending a delegation to Canada to promote the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat summit.
As per media reports, Chief Secretary Raj Kumar said that “Any delegation sent to a foreign country necessitates political clearance, a provision made by the Ministry of External Affairs. Delegation deployment cannot proceed without their express approval.”
Kumar added, “I cannot provide a definitive answer regarding our delegation’s journey to Canada, as the Union government must grant political clearance. It is the central authority that determines our official visits to other countries and the corresponding level of engagement. We require this clearance prior to embarking on such journeys.”
Despite Japan being the inaugural “partner country” for Vibrant Gujarat in 2009, Canada became the second nation and the first from the Western world to partner with the summit in 2011. This occurred while other nations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, continued to steer clear of Gujarat due to the 2002 post-Godhra communal riots.
Kumar emphasised that regardless of the recent announcements made by the state government about organising international roadshows for the summit, upfront clearance is a prerequisite before the state government’s delegation prepares for foreign travel.
Gujarat is scheduled to host the 10th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat summit from January 10-12, 2024, after a four-year hiatus. The 10th edition, originally slated for January 2022, was cancelled shortly before the event due to a surge in Omicron variant Covid-19 cases.
This time around, the Gujarat government has articulated plans to visit 12 countries in order to promote the Vibrant Gujarat summit and explore investment opportunities. Additionally, the state government will conduct roadshows in key cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Chennai, Chandigarh, Guwahati, Jaipur and Indore.
The diplomatic tensions between India and Canada escalated after Canada expelled a high-ranking Indian diplomat earlier this week, following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s insinuation of a potential Indian government involvement in the demise of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.