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'US Indians should create a lobby'

Last updated on: March 21, 2005 14:52 IST

Mike Patel, founder member of Asian American Hotel Owners Association in the United States, told on Monday that he was misquoted on the issue of denial of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Patel said he never said that AAHOA had cancelled the invitation.

Modi cools ire against US

In a telephonic conversation, Mike Patel said, "Indian Americans are torn on the issue because I believe since we live in the US we have to live with the decisions of the American government. Whether you like it or not, this is the American stand. Take or leave it. We must understand that we can't do much about it except launching protests."

'Decision taken at the highest levels'

He added, "At same time I believe that it's not a right assessment of the State Department. It has been taken under pressure from certain religious organisations."

When asked to be specific, Patel said, "The decision is influenced by Christian organisations and I think when they came under pressure, officials took the decision hastily."

It's an issue of swabhimaan: Modi

Patel also said that sooner or later the ban would have to go because "it is very trivial."

"But it can do real damage. The US is usually not like this. This is out of its context," reasoned Patel.

'Visa denial a courageous stand'

When asked about the options before the Indian American community, Patel said, "Indian Americans should create a strong lobby. When Christian organisations were lobbying, we were not very much aware of it. We should change the wrong perception. We must highlight that Modi is an elected leader. And until the charge is proven against him one can't formulate a final opinion about it."

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi