Sena's Prabhu opts out of Wharton forum after Modi snub

Indicating that there is unity among the 'Hindutva' parties despite internal squabbles, Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu today said he has cancelled his visit to the India Economic Forum in Philadelphia organised by the Wharton School in protest after the forum cancelled a scheduled keynote address by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi scheduled for later this month.

Modi's address was cancelled after vigorous protests by alumni and students across American universities over his role in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in his state. The forum's management said in a statement on Sunday that it stood by its decision to invite Modi, but had to bow to the protestors.

The Sena's Prabhu was power minister in the former National Democratic Alliance government led by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party. Prabhu is a member of the economic forum, and was scheduled to attend the conference on 23 May.

He said he regards the university's volte-face on Modi an insult to the country.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party today officially reacted to the cancellation of Modi's keynote address. Calling it a ''small incident'', BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said, "It's not foreigners who will be voting for Modi, it's the Indian people."

It can be read from this that Modi is certain to be India's next prime minister if the BJP-led NDA wins a working majority in the 2014 elections, which is possible if not probable.

"The world community is coming to take his help. There have been mixed message coming from the world community. They will come around finally," Javadekar said.