A New Entry In BJP's Poll Promises - US Consulates In Indian Cities

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, a former diplomat, is BJP’s Amritsar Lok Sabha candidate.

It first began with BJP MP Tejasvi Surya. Now, the lead is followed by BJP’s Amritsar candidate Taranjit Singh Sandhu. A promise to bring a US consulate to their respective cities – Bengaluru and Amritsar.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, a former diplomat, filed his nomination papers on Friday for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Mr Sandhu, 61, was accompanied by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at a roadshow prior to filing his nomination papers.

“If we look at India-US relations, they are progressing at a fast pace. Our community is growing there. There is so much business today between the two nations. So I think more consulates will open here in future. And we will have to see who puts forward the case for Amritsar,” said S Jaishankar to a big round of applause.

“So if you keep the right man…You have to see who is advocating Amritsar’s case,” Mr Jaishankar added with Mr Sandhu sitting right next to him.

The former Ambassador to the US, Mr Sandhu has been instrumental in opening the Indian Consulate in Seattle, the sixth one after New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and San Francisco.

“I have certainly spoken to Ambassador Garcetti, and I know he will positively recommend that. I’ve also spoken to Dr Jaishankar. He’s also been positive about that. There are statistics which support that,” Mr Sandhu, who joined the BJP in March, said in an interview to WION in April.

Mr Sandhu, during his stint as India’s envoy to the US, oversaw several key deals between the two countries, including the deal with US giant GE to make fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force.

Embassies, located in the capital city of the host country, represent the highest level of diplomatic relations between two countries and are led by ambassadors, who serve as the official representatives of their governments. Consulates, usually located in major cities rather than the capital, provide the same services as embassies, but they follow the lead of the embassy. While embassies have a broader range of responsibilities, consulates primarily focus on consular services, trade and commerce, and cultural diplomacy within their consular districts.

“The demand for a US Consulate in Bengaluru has been long-standing, since early 2000s. Many residents of Bengaluru travel to Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata or Hyderabad, spending Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000 and 2-3 days for VISA approvals. No such hassles for any Kannadiga going forward. It was among my top priorities that a city like Bengaluru should get a US Consulate, and am happy to have delivered on this promise within my first term,” Tejasvi Surya posted on April 9.

 The US will open two new consulates in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, a senior White House official had said in June 2023.

Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad are the four US consulates in India.

Punjab will vote in a single phase on June 1 to elect 13 members to the 18th Lok Sabha.