With the diplomatic stiffness between India and the US on a rise, following India’s neutral stand over the Russia-Ukraine conflict on various International platforms, the Joe Biden-led US administration seems to have deliberately delayed the appointment of an ambassador to the world’s largest democracy.
There has been no US ambassador posted in India since US President Joe Biden took office last year. Since last month the US is desperately trying to convince India to get tougher on Russia for the ongoing war in Ukraine.US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster vacated the post on January 20 last year. Since then, there have been four interim Chargé d’affaires, including Patricia A. Lacina, who is currently heading the mission.
The Democrats had nominated Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti for the post eight months ago, but it seems that he has not been able to garner enough support to be confirmed as ambassador to India.
Further, the appointment was derailed after a member of Garcetti’s staff was embroiled in allegations of sexual harassment, which snowballed into a debate about a hostile work environment in the mayor’s office.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has placed a ‘hold’ on Garcetti’s nomination, pending his own independent investigations into the allegations, which he said might take well over a month. Republican Senator Joni Ernest has placed a second hold on the nomination.
Top lawmakers believe that if the stalemate is not resolved soon, it may force the Biden administration to pull Garcetti’s nomination and find another candidate.
India has so far defied pressure from the Biden administration to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and it continues to buy Russian oil after the US imposed its own import ban.
The US recently sent its deputy national security advisor Daleep Singh to India in an attempt to convince New Delhi to modify its stance. However, Singh’s controversial remarks during the visit were widely panned as ‘undiplomatic’ and an attempt to ‘coerce’ India into changing its position. The visit further highlighted the need for a US Ambassador in India.