The Congress on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of violating Indian foreign policy's "time-honoured principle" of not interfering in the domestic elections of another country by "actively campaigning" for US President Donald Trump at the 'Howdy, Modi' event in Houston.
The opposition party said by taking a "partisan" position, the prime minister has done a "disservice" to long-term strategic Indo-US relations. It also took a swipe at Modi saying it would have been better if he would have "shed his aversion" to Jawaharlal Nehru and joined in endorsing what the US Senators were saying about the country's first prime minister.
Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said it should not be seen that India is taking sides and the Prime Minister using the Houston platform to exhort and raise the slogan of 'Ab ki baar Trump sarkar' was better avoided.
"We have a strategic partnership between India and the United States of America which is bipartisan, which we fully endorse.
"But, there is a time-honoured convention of India's foreign policy that when we engage with the foreign governments or the President or Prime Minister when on foreign soil, we do not take part in the domestic electoral politics. Prime Minister should have honoured that," Sharma told reporters.
"It should not be seen that India is taking positions or sides and Prime minister using that platform to exhort and raise that slogan on 'Ab ki baar Trump sarkar' was better avoided," the Congress leader said.
Sharma said India has engaged with both Republican administration and Democratic administration and it was a Republican administration under President George W Bush "when we successfully negotiated the Indo-US Nuclear deal during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's tenure".
He said when the US elections came, the Indian leadership under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not take a partisan position to support or endorse the Republicans and when Barack Obama took over as the US President, "we carried on with the US engagement with the Democratic administration, as effectively as we had done with the previous Republican administration".
"As far as India's strategic interests are concerned, we have to engage with all the parties concerned. We wish the prime minister for his visit. We hope that President Trump would appreciate the Indian diaspora greeting him when the prime minister was there," he said.
On President Trump attending the 'Howdy, Modi' event in Houston, he said, the Congress has no objections to it.
"But, we hope the Prime Minister would get President Trump to agree to restore all the cuts on H1B Visas, reduce the fees and again restore the GSP so that Indian exports can get access to the US markets," he said.
Earlier, in a series of tweets, Sharma said Modi was in the US as India's prime minister and not a star campaigner in the US elections.
"Mr Prime Minister, you have violated the time-honoured principle of Indian foreign policy of not interfering in the domestic elections of another country. This is a singular disservice to the long-term strategic interests of India," Sharma said on Twitter after the event in Texas on Sunday night where Modi and Trump shared the stage.
"Our relationship with the United States of America have throughout been bipartisan, vis-à-vis Republicans and Democrats. Your actively campaigning for Trump is a breach of both India and America as sovereign nations and democracies," he added.