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PM Modi to address Joint US Congress this week: The past 11 times he addressed foreign legislature and how he surpasses past PMs

On June 22, 2023, PM Modi will become the first Indian Prime Minister to address a joint session of the US Congress twice.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to address a joint session of the US Congress on Thursday (June 22). He will be on a State visit to the United States between June 21 and June 24 this year.

The historic invite was extended to PM Modi by US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Interestingly, this will be the 12th occasion when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the legislature of a foreign nation – a historic feat not achieved by other world leaders. He holds the distinction of addressing the Parliament of 11 countries in the past 9 years, thus surpassing all his predecessors. Follow is the list of foreign parliaments addressed by PM Narendra Modi.

List of Foreign Parliaments addressed by PM Narendra Modi

  • Bhutan – Shortly after becoming the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi was invited to address the joint session of the Bhutanese parliament on June 16, 2014. During his speech, he emphasised, “India is committed to good relations with its neighbours. Stability and development in India will help neighbours like Bhutan.” PM Modi was also given a guard of honour.
  • Nepal: Two months later in August, he addressed the Constituent Assembly of Nepal. “Our relations with Nepal are as old as the Himalayas and the Ganga…It’s the land where Lord Buddha was born, this country has rich cultural heritage…India is looking at Nepal with hope,” PM Modi had said.
  • Australia: He also addressed the Joint Session of the Australian Parliament in November 18, 2014. This honour was not accorded to any other Prime Minister before Narendra Modi. “Today, as I stand in this temple of democracy, I consider nations such as ours to be blessed, because democracy offers the best opportunity for the human spirit to flourish, because we have the freedom to choose, the right to speak and the power to remove – and, for us in politics, with no option but to leave with grace,” he had remarked.
  • Fiji: A day after addressing the Parliament in Australia, PM Modi was in Suva to address the Fiji Parliament on November 19, 2014. It was the first time that any world leader was given the opportunity to make a speech at the country’s legislature. In May this year, Narendra Modi was awarded the highest civilian award i.e. Companion of the Order of Fiji (CF) by Prime Minister Sitiveni Rubuka.

Sri Lanka: On March 13, 2015, Prime Minister Modi addressed the Parliament of the island nation, Sri Lanka. It was also the first instance when an Indian PM was accorded the opportunity. “I am convinced that the future of any country is influenced by the state of its neighbourhood. The future that I dream for India is also the future that I wish for our neighbours. We in this region are on the same journey: to transform the lives of our people,” he said during his historic address.

Mongolia: Two months later, he was in Mongolia to address the ‘State Great Khural’ (the country’s unicameral Parliament). Interestingly, it was also the first time that an Indian Prime Minister visited the East Asian nation.

United Kingdom: On November 12, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his historic address at the Parliament of the United Kingdom. “So much of the modern history of India is linked to this building. So much history looms across our relationship,” he had said on the momentous ocaasion.

Afghanistan: The Indian government aided the construction of the Parliament of the war-torn nation of Afghanistan. While inaugurating the building on December 25, 2015, PM Modi stated, “A country with an abiding faith in the tradition of Jirga has chosen the path of democracy. And, it has done it against challenges that would have defeated a lesser people.”

United States: On June 9, 2016, PM Modi addressed a Joint Session of the US Congress. He said, “In granting me this opportunity, you have honoured the world’s largest democracy and its 1.25 billion people. As a representative of the world’s largest democracy, it is indeed a privilege to speak to the leaders of its oldest.”

Uganda: On July 15, 2018, he addressed the parliament of Uganda, making him the first Indian Prime Minister to be accorded such a privilege. “Today, India and Africa stand on the threshold of a future of great promise…India is proud to be Africa’s partner. Uganda is central to our commitment to the continent,” PM Modi shad said then.

Maldives: Narendra Modi addressed the parliament of Maldives on June 8, 2019. During the speech, the Indian Prime Minister pointed out, “Neighbourhood First is our priority. And in the neighbourhood, Maldives is a priority. And therefore, it is no coincidence that I stand amidst you today.

How do past PMs fare

It must be mentioned that other Indian Prime Ministers do not even come close to the number of times that PM Modi had addressed the legislature of a foreign nation.

For instance, ex-Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh addressed foreign Parliaments on a total of 7 occasions during his 10-year tenure. The number is lower for Indira Gandhi, who was accorded the opportunity only 4 times in 15 years

India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru addressed foreign legislature a total of 3 times in 16 years. PM Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee could do it twice during their 5-year terms. PV Narasimha Rao and Morarji Desai got the opportunity only once.

So far, only 5 Prime Ministers other than Narendra Modi addressed the US Congress. They include Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.

On June 22, 2023, PM Modi will become the first Indian Prime Minister to address a joint session of the US Congress twice.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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