India Prime Minister Spurns San Jose on International Flight Deal

In the glow of last week’s news that San Jose scored direct flights to and from Germany with Lufthansa—nevermind that just six months ago one of its suicidal pilots purposely flew into the French Alps, killing 149 passengers—a bigger deal has fallen through the cracks. Late last month, San Jose’s airport rolled out the red carpet, literally, to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For months the city courted the PM, who has an unusually active role in determining where his country’s airline, Air India, will fly. In addition to providing a huge police escort and additional security, Team Liccardo commissioned a $1,000 key to the city for Modi. The 3-foot, stainless steel electric guitar posing as a key was a symbolic gesture, yet there was some internal debate on the appropriateness of giving a gift to a man almost certainly mixed up with some modern day pogroms. In 2002, following a train fire that killed 58 people in Gujarat, India’s westernmost state, then-chief minister Modi failed to prevent—if not incited—riots that killed more than 1,000 Muslims as retribution, and included the savage public raping of numerous women. Modi’s rise up the political ladder recently forced the U.S. to rescind its 12-year travel ban, and San Jose officials reluctantly began assembling the welcome wagon in hopes of scoring flights between here and Delhi. The day after he arrived, Modi spoke in front of more than 18,000 people at SAP Center, but not before an awkward pre-speech meet-and-greet. Modi shared a few short words with local electeds, including Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and Mayor Liccardo also got a little face time. He thanked Modi for what the mayor had been assured was a done deal, and the PM was amiable, if not a little standoffish. He then went on stage and told a jubilant crowd that he was happy to announce new direct flights between Delhi and, ahem, San Francisco.

Who wouldn't want this super cool $1,000 key?

Who wouldn't want this super cool $1,000 key?

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The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. “The 3-foot, stainless steel electric guitar posing as a key was a symbolic gesture,”

    The aforementioned “symbolic gesture” is an indicator of grand mal stupidity.

    David S. Wall

  2. ” In 2002, following a train fire that killed 58 people in Gujarat, India’s westernmost state, then-chief minister Modi failed to prevent—if not incited—riots that killed more than 1,000 Muslims as retribution, and included the savage public raping of numerous women. ”

    Incorrect. Please note the above paragraph fact checked and presented below:

    In 2002, following a train fire that killed 58 “Hindu pilgrims” in Gujarat, India’ Western most State, by a Muslim Mob, the then chief minister Modi “was accused” of failing to prevent riots that killed more than 1000 “people” – 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus, and included the savage “rape and murder” of numerous women.

    When you want to take the moral high road of outrage – it would make sense to actually “quote facts” – not rhetoric. Also it would help to stay away from ridiculous labels like “pogrom” when the USA kills thousands as “collateral damage” year in its drone campaigns compared to a riot in India which had no government sanction .

    • Ok…try this on for size then- under his PMship, there has been greater surveillance, withdrawal of civil rights for minority groups, growing Hindutva influence, and squashing of LGBTQ rights….to name a few things.

      • How are civil rights “withdrawn”? You’re probably referring to the ban on eating beef during Hindu festivals by various state governments which are controlled by the same political party as Modi. What changes in LGBTQ rights?

        BTW, your description sounds just like the reign of George W. Bush, who many did not like.

  3. Mayor Liccardo should’ve sweetened the deal and promised the PM that San Jose would exempt Indian arrivals from immigration and customs processing… it’s a deal that sure seems to have worked with Mexico.

  4. Lets not get racist & hurtful. All people who are here in America are here because it is their country, regardless of origin- infact for those of who chose it deliberately- more so!!!! BE HUMAN. Respect humanity & dignity of others, as much as you want it for yourself.

    • > Lets not get racist & hurtful.

      Starting with you.

      You just disrespected American citizenship by asserting WITH NO BASIS whatsoever that it is a meaningless concept, and that anyone anywhere is entitled to have America as “their country” just be being here.

  5. SAP arena was a fabulous venue for Modi’s speech & not a dime was charged from any attendee. Modi spoke eloquently, in Hindi & there were gliches w the translation & the translators closed before PM Modi ended his speech!!!! BUT, it was a powerful, moving event & the National Anthem rendition for USA & India were BEAUTIFUL!!!
    Hats off to the San Jose city & its council for honoring all its citizens & residents of Indian diaspora and a country head of PM Modi’s stature in such style!

        • Hmm… interesting. If you mean to say that the Pilgrims came illegally then you must also by extension) mean the foundations of the USA (which did not exist when the pilgrims arrived) are illegitimate and all subsequent arrivals are either illegal or not bound to submit to the laws and government established and known as the USA.

          You don’t really mean that do you?

    • Might have been beautiful inside the arena but outside the protests were pretty ugly and very tense. Give SJPD credit for keeping the peace while allowing everybody to express their views.

  6. What a horribly written smarmy article full of innuendo and pseudo reporting, and what a nasty dig at Lufthansa. If you want to get technical the nutty pilot worked at Germanwings which is a subsidiary of Lufthansa, which if the Germanwings suicide killing is counted, still has one of the best safety records in the aviation business.

    And re. Modi, IAF101 could not have said it better.

  7. Perhaps the Indian PM was miffed because both Carl Guardino and Sam Liccardo keep referring to the new international flights from SJC to Beijing, Tokyo, Frankfurt, and London and the proposed non stop flight to New Delhi as direct flights, when they are all in fact non-stop flights. Direct and non-stop are NOT synonyms. I pointed this out in an email to Bike Boy Sam a while back. I even laid out the differences for him. I got a nice response from one of his staff who thanked me for my input and assured me she would point out the differences to Sam. Either she didn’t, or he still doesn’t get it. That’s JUG for you Sam (Jesuit educated folks will know what JUG means). This week Carl Guardino has been touting on KLIV the SVLG’s effectiveness in getting DIRECT flights from SJC to 4 out of the 5 cities they targeted. They are all NON STOPS Carl, not direct flights. I’ll bet Ed Lee knows the difference, which helped SFO get the new non stop (not direct) flight to India. Yet another reason, albeit a small one, why SJ will always play third fiddle (not even second fiddle) to The City. But Sam and Carl can be consoled by the fact that Fly doesn’t know that direct and non stop are different from each other, and uses the terms as if they were interchangeable.

  8. Standing behind my Anvil, I can no longer call our Village of hearts Delight a One Horse Town. We have 13 horses. I find this site very entertaining! All the nameless characters, that speel their intermost criticisums, weekly, and not to mention, the focused political assinations by our Editor.
    This Modi character, was brought in to bolster, what Sam Licardo, Larry Stone, & DA Rosen, were endorsing as a candidate, to unseat Mike Honda. OPPS! The Red carpet set us back ,What? 10 grand. The Key, was 1000 bucks. The Sap center was what? 25 grand? The entire short staff of the San Jose PD, must to have cost 50 grand. The airlines flight?. The Guy sticks them with San Francisco, as his airport of choice.
    This after, the A’s, remain in Oakland, The visit to the Vatican, is a dud. The Pope Canonizes a decript priest as a saint? From across the country, and with no dignity ignores the pleas of the Coastal Native Tribes.
    Ro Khanna, Is certainly not fit to follow in Mike Honda’s foot steps. He would be well suited to change the Modi government, in India. The Brat Billionairs here in Sillycon Valley, don’t want to pay the corp. taxes, we pay. So they are poking Ro Khanna to run a campaign to smear a true American, Mike Honda.
    Larry Esquivel, has become a finalist for the Dallas Texas Police Dept.
    Lastly, The wheels have come off the San Francisco 49ers.
    OK Sam, Let Us Have that big toothy smile and tell us it’s not really happening.

  9. Ludicrous to say Modi remotely incited any violence. Compare crowd control in Baltimore, now imagine 59 citizens burned alive, factor in a 10 time higher population density in a city of few million, and probably local cops not professional. You think anyone can control that? He tried to get out of state forces but the backlash was to quick to quell. Note I am no fan of Modi, but a mob in India is not easy t o control. The Supreme Court cleared him and the judiciary and Modi are no friends.even opposition politicians dropped it.

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