Congress on Wednesday raised questions over the links between the prime minister's office and an NGO head Madi Sharma, who is said to have invited European Union MPs for a meeting with Narendra Modi and a visit to Jammu and Kashmir, asking how an "international business broker" could have access to PMO.
Party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said while farmers and unemployed youth couldn't meet the prime minister, people like Sharma were giving assurance that the visit would be sponsored.
"Farmers and unemployed youth of India don't have the facility of meeting the prime minister so that their problems can be heard. But yes, international business brokers like Madi Sharma can proudly write, 'come to India we will also bear your expenses'."
"We have access to the PM's Office, we will arrange a meeting with the PM. How did these business brokers have access to the PMO," Vadra said in a tweet in Hindi.
In the invite that Sharma sent out to EU MPs, she wrote: “I am organising a prestigious VIP meeting with the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi and it is my privilege to offer this invitation to you.”
“As you will be aware Prime Minister Modi had a landslide victory in the recent elections in India and is planning to continue on his path of growth and development for India the country and its people. In that respect, he would like to meet influential decision-makers from the European Union,” the invite further said.
Explaining the 3-day visit, the invite further mentioned a meeting with Indian Prime Minister, a visit to Kashmir, followed by a press conference on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, too, had asked who Madi Sharma was, adding in what capacity was she fixing the appointment of MEPs with the prime minister and why the Government of India was facilitating it. The Congress dubbed the entire tour a "diplomatic blunder", and asked the Centre what it was "internationalising" the Kashmir issue when it was an internal matter.
Surjewala further questioned where the money to finance the entire visit was coming from and why the MEA been completely sidelined.
Even jailed Congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted, "Who knows? The European MEPs may be invited to attend the next session of Parliament and speak in support of the government."
The former finance minister, who is lodged in Tihar jail in the INX Media case, had asked his family to tweet this on his behalf.
Former Union minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal asked on Twitter that if everything was normal in the valley, why there was security convoy, bullet-proof vehicles, deserted roads and detention facilities. He pointed out that no trade body member, mainstream politician, a prominent member of civil society met the EU delegation.
Capping the visit that attracted controversy and opposition ire, EU parliamentarians visiting Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday termed Article 370 an internal issue of India and said they stand by the country in its fight against terrorism.
The 23 members of European Parliament, who flew into a restive Kashmir Valley pockmarked by shutdowns and clashes for a two-day visit on Tuesday, also condemned the killing of five migrant labourers from West Bengal by terrorists in south Kashmir's Kulgam district.