Sources said the government’s keenness to take the US president to Varanasi reflects the PM’s view that engagements with foreign partners, existing as well as potential, need not remain a ‘ Delhi-centric affair’ and go beyond deliberations between foreign ministry bureaucrats.
Visiting foreign leaders have often ventured beyond New Delhi. The allure of Taj Mahal continues to bring visiting leaders to Agra, while Bangalore and Hyderabad have been increasingly figuring on the itineraries because of their freshly- found reputation as IT hubs. Visits to Mumbai and tours to industrial plants set up with joint collaboration as well ‘ model villages’ have also been part of the tour package. However, Modi wants to make the process of diversifying diplomatic engagements a regular affair. This was why Chinese President Xi Jinping started his trip from Ahmedabad. Sources said the PM was also keen that Russian President V Putin visited the nuclear plant at Kudankulam which has been built in collaboration with Russia. Putin was on board but the plan had to be dropped because of worries back home and a technical fault in the plant in Tamil Nadu.