We meet everyone, Indian Ambassador to U.S. on meeting with Steve Bannon

By Sriram Lakshman
September 06, 2019

India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Vardhan Shringla met with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon at the latter’s house in Washington DC. Their meeting included a discussion on India, Russia, China and domestic politics in the U.S, according to Mr. Shringla.

“He’s someone who has high regard for India and wants to see strong relations [between the U.S. and India],” Mr. Shringla said.

Mr. Shringla’s comments to The Hindu were in the context of a tweet he had written summarising the meeting. “A pleasure to meet the legendary ideology and ‘Dharma’ warrior @StephenBannon, an avid follower of the #Hindu epic the #BhagvadGita,” the tweet, which was subsequently deleted, said.

“He’s someone who has high regard for India and wants to see strong relations [between the US and India],” Mr. Shringla told The Hindu.

Mr Bannon is a declared admirer of Prime Minister Modi and was, in 2015, considering setting up an Indian version of the far right website he headed at the time, Breitbart, funded by conservative donor Rebekah Mercer, the Daily Beast reported.

‘Too much being read into meeting’

Too much was being read into their meeting, Mr. Shringla told The Hindu, adding that some from ‘across the border’ [ an apparent reference to Pakistan] were imparting conspiratorial angles to it. “Don’t look into it as a conspiracy,” Mr. Shringla said. Some websites had linked the meeting to the tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir following India’s August 5 abrogation of Article 370 ( special status for Kashmir).

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“Don’t look into it as a conspiracy,” Mr Shringla said.

Apart from his role as former head of Brietbart, Steve Bannon’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm involved in a scandal around the unethical harvesting of Facebook profiles, and his work to mobilize populist parties across Europe have earned him a reputation for divisiveness that extends beyond the United States.

“We meet everyone from Bernie Sanders to Steve Bannon,”he said, adding that in his role he had to meet people of different ideological views but it did not imply one subscribed to those views.

Published at  https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/we-meet-everyone-indian-envoy-on-meeting-with-bannon/article29345349.ece