Political dust-up in India over private Aspen conference | AspenTimes.com

Political dust-up in India over private Aspen conference

Details are limited about an Aspen conference billed a “Weekend with Charlie Rose,” but a political flare-up in India is shedding light on the private affair.

Local residents learned of the exclusive event last year when Vice President Joe Biden’s 40-vehicle motorcade forced motorists to be rerouted on Highway 82. Biden and his entourage were en route to Aspen from Eagle County Regional Airport.

Multiple law-enforcement agencies were enlisted to help with security, prompting them to bill the organizer of the private event, which attracts prominent national and global figures, for their staff time.

Rose and others are back in Aspen this weekend for the conference, which started Thursday and ends Monday. But Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Thursday that it’s not on the same scale as last year’s edition, which was hosted by such venues as the Maroon Creek Club, St. Regis Aspen Resort and the Hotel Jerome.

“We got a call from security, and they said it won’t impact anybody this year,” DiSalvo said. “We’ve got nothing to worry about.”

But in India, members of the country’s largest political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, have lashed out at Rahul Gandhi, the vice president of the Indian National Congress Party who is scheduled to attend the conference.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has questioned if Gandhi is even coming to Aspen, despite a statement earlier this week from the National Congress Party that said: “Rahul Gandhi is traveling to Aspen, U.S., on a short visit to attend a conference. The conference is expected to be attended by global leaders from various domains, both from government and private sectors.”

That prompted a Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman to tell reporters in New Delhi that Gandhi’s party has lied about his whereabouts, and they claimed the Charlie Rose conference was held in July and sponsored by the Aspen Institute. An institute official said Thursday that the think tank has no affiliation with the Rose event.

“For the last three days, the Congress is misleading the country over Gandhi’s whereabouts,” Bharatiya Janata Party’s spokesman said, according to published reports. “The Congress has claimed that he is travelling to Aspen in the US to attend a conference known as ‘Weekend with Charlie Rose.’ But we have got to know that the said conference was over in July.”

The BJP also said Gandhi is on a “forced vacation” because the Congress party feels his presence in India would hurt their chances at the upcoming Bihar assembly election.

On Wednesday, the Congress party fired back, providing more details about the Aspen conference.

“The Congress party in a written statement (Tuesday) had clearly stated that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is traveling to Aspen, U.S., on a short visit to attend a conference. The conference is expected to be attended by global leaders from various domains, both from government and private sectors. We reject all rumors stating otherwise,” the statement said. “It is reiterated that the said conference known as ‘Weekend with Charlie Rose’ is an internationally renowned private conference organized and piloted by famous journalist Charlie Rose, who, apart from other things, recently interviewed the Russian President Vladmir Putin,” the statement added.

The Bharatiya Janata Party however, wasn’t buying it.

“Congress is unable to give a proper reason for Rahul’s absence. Everyday they are trotting out a new story, coming out with a new fact that turns out to be false. It is resorting to apparent falsehood and lies to hide facts we don’t know,” the party said.

The conference’s organizer, Beverly Hills, California-based talent agency William Morris Endeavor, did not comment for this story.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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