Friday, June 18, 2021

'Modi must choose between democracy, despotism': Tory MPs want Johnson to get tough

  • Jun 10, 2021
  • Author: QT-Online
  • Number of views: 2167
  • Top News
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is all set to host world leaders at a summit of the G7 in the UK, which starts on Friday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited as a guest to the summit, along with the leaders of Australia, South Korea and South Africa. Modi will be attending virtually on account of the COVID-19 situation.
Johnson has been aggressively courting India to conclude a trade deal in the wake of Brexit. Johnson had planned two visits to India—in January and April—though both had to be put off on account of the COVID-19 situation.
Amid the wooing of India, Johnson is facing calls from MPs of his own Conservative party to get tough with Modi on two issues: Treatment of foreign companies and the perceived slide in democratic standards in India.
David Davis, a former minister and civil rights campaigner, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying “India was rightly seen as a strategic ally in the west’s campaign to contain China, but that the Indian government had 'not committed itself to the path that the west would prefer'”. He alleged India had seized, “by force the property of at least three American and British companies operating in India”.
Davis was quoted by Financial Times as saying, “It’s time for Modi and his government to choose... Does India’s future lie in committing to the western alliance of free democratic nations, or will he instead attempt some halfway house between democracy and despotism, between freedom and oppression, between the rule of law or the arbitrary whim of rulers, between the west and Chinese Communist party?”
Two other Conservative MPs, James Daly and Paul Bristow, urged Johnson to raise the matter of treatment of foreign companies with Modi. In the past decade, UK-based companies Vodafone and Cairn Energy have been engaged in tax disputes with India, which have raised concerns among some international investors. The Financial Times reported Daly and Bristow wrote to Johnson saying, “Every step forward in UK-India economic relations is dependent on respect for the rule of law and protection of investors. This is the foundation that supports increased investment, standards recognition, technological co-operation and so much more. It provides certainty and predictability, which in turn unlocks investment and encourages risk-taking.”
The British government had announced that Johnson would be holding bilateral talks at the G7 summit with only those leaders who were present in person.