Kampala. Shri Ravi Shankar, the Indian high commissioner, yesterday yielded to pressure from 15 enraged leaders of Indian community and associations, and co-opted six members on the disputed committee organising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Uganda later this month.
A group of 15 Indian associations had on July 5 petitioned the commissioner, rejecting the organising committee and threatened to stay away from preparations for their prime minister’s visit, citing accountability concerns and rejected the team he appointed to prepare for Mr Modi’s visit.
Realising that matters were getting out of hand, Mr Shankar yesterday accepted to meet the leaders of the aggrieved groups and during the meeting, he accepted to co-opt six additional members to the disputed 10-member committee co-chaired by Mr Mohan Rao and Mr Pradip Karia.
The new members of the committee are; Mr Jitu Sorathiya, Mr Paresh Mehta, Mr Sanjay Adhiya, Mr Nareshbhai Patel, Mr Daxesh Patel and Mr Raju Hirani.
At the closed-door meeting at the Indian High Commission on Kyadondo Road in Kampala, the parties, however, agreed to work together for the success of the event. The aggrieved leaders also undertook to communicate the decision to their clans.
According to Mr Sanjay Tanna, the spokesperson of the core organising committee, Mr Shankar co-opted six of the leaders of the protesting communities and associations to sit on the same committee with others joining the sub-committees.
“In the meeting attended by 45 chairpersons of various associations, it was agreed that we all work together for the success of the event of Prime Minister Modi’s visit. Now, everyone is on board and we hope for success,” Mr Tanna told Daily Monitor.
Sources at the Indian High Commission in Kampala told this newspaper that some leaders had threatened to petition New Delhi if Mr Shankar had refused to succumb to their demands. Others, according to sources, went to the meeting with instructions from their members to walk out of Mr Shankar if he had refused “to cooperate”.
Those opposed to the committee had demanded the reconstitution of the 10-member- committee to cater for all interests of the Indians living in Uganda. But in a meeting described by sources as ‘serious’, the 15 leaders agreed to bury their hatchet and work as a team in preparation for the prime minister’s visit.
Mr Modi is expected to visit the country on July 24 at the invitation of President Museveni for bilateral talks at State House Entebbe, but is highly expected to meet with at least a half of the more than 30,000 Indians living and working in Uganda.
The community reception is expected to be held at the Kololo Airstrip, according to the tentative programme.