Narendra Modi vs Manmohan Singh on foreign visits: Fact-checking Amit Shah’s claim

Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently spoke at a public function, where he claimed that former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh went on more foreign trips than PM Narendra Modi did, in five years.

As is evident from the above video posted on BJP’s YouTube channel, Mr Shah said that when the numbers were compared for the foreign visits of the two Prime Ministers, it emerged that in five years, PM Narendra Modi had travelled abroad less than his predecessor.

His exact words, which can be heard from 0:07 minutes, are, “अभी अभी कांग्रेस के एक नेता बोलते थे , कि मोदीजी विदेशो में घुमते हैं , मैंने बोला जांच करा , के मनमोहनजी के 5 साल और मोदीजी के 5 साल ज़्यादा विदेश में कौन गया देखो भाई, तो मालूम पड़ा मोदीजी कम गए हैं और मनमोहन सिंह ज़्यादा गए हैं। तो मेरे मन में सवाल उठा कि दीखता तो ऐसा है कि मोदीजी ज़्यादा गए हैं , ऐसा क्यों हुआ ?”

Translation: Just now a Congress leader said that Modiji keeps travelling abroad, so I said lets probe this, in 5 years of Manmohanji’s rule and 5 years of Modiji’s rule, who went abroad more, then we found out that Manmohan Singh had had more foreign trips than Modiji. So I pondered, why is it so that it seems Modiji has travelled abroad far more frequently? 

Amit Shah then stressed that PM Modi’s international visits garnered much attention owing to his popularity, as opposed to Dr Singh’s supposedly nondescript tours abroad. Congress and BJP have sparred over PM Modi’s foreign visits on several occasions. The most recent instance is the Congress party’s dig at the Prime Minister on World Tourism Day (September 27), tweeting a collage of his photographs clicked before the PM boarded his plane.

FACT CHECK: FALSE CLAIM BY AMIT SHAH

Amit Shah’s claim is, simply put, false. The numbers do not tally with the Home Minister’s narrative. Information about international visits undertaken by the Prime Minister is readily available on the website of the PMO. Alt News compared three sets of numbers.

1. Total number of international visits

2. Number of countries visited

3. Number of days spent abroad as part of these visits

1. NUMBER OF INTERNATIONAL VISITS 

The data states that from 2014, after PM Modi assumed office, till the end of his first term in 2019, the Prime Minister had visited abroad 49 times. PM Modi’s first international visit was to Bhutan in June 2014. His last international visit in his first term was to South Korea in February 2019.

On the other hand, former PM Manmohan Singh had 35 foreign trips in his first term (2004-2009), 14 fewer than PM Narendra Modi. This information is available in the PMO archives. Manmohan Singh’s first foreign visit as Prime Minister was to Thailand in July 2004. His final international visit in his first term was to the UK for the G-20 summit, in March-April 2009. If we consider Dr Singh’s second term (2009-2014), the number of visits stood at 38, a marginal increase from the previous term.

2. NUMBER OF COUNTRIES VISITED

In the period from 2004 to 2009, former PM Dr Manmohan Singh, in the course of his 35 foreign trips, had visited 28 countries. Dr Singh, in his second term (2009-2014), visited 35 nations, taking his overall tally to 63 countries over two terms and ten years. If multiple visits are counted, this number stands at 96. In contrast, PM Modi has visited 59 countries from 2014 to 2019 in the course of his 49 international trips. Here too, Narendra Modi outscores Dr Manmohan Singh, whether we consider the first or the second term for the latter.

3. NUMBER OF DAYS SPENT ABROAD

From 2004 to 2009, Dr Manmohan Singh spent 147 days abroad during his 35 international visits. The figure stood slightly higher from 2009 to 2014, at 158 days. Here too, PM Modi takes the lead in numbers, having spent 186 days out of India from 2014 to 2019. This information too is available on the website of PMO and PMO Archives.’

The three sets of numbers are presented in a tabular format below.

Prime MinisterManmohan Singh (2004-2009)Manmohan Singh (2009-2014)Narendra Modi (2014-2019)
No. of international visits353849
No. of countries visited283559
No. of days spent abroad147158186

Source: PMO, PMO Archives

In conclusion, it may be stated that Home Minister Amit Shah’s claim is false. A perusal of the publicly available information reveals that PM Narendra Modi had more foreign visits in the first term than former PM Dr Manmohan Singh. PM Modi also visited more countries and spent more number of days abroad as compared to the former PM. Earlier in 2017, Amit Shah had stated something similar– PM Modi had visited fewer nations than Dr Singh in his three years (then) as Prime Minister. This statement was fact-checked by The Hindu, which found it to be untrue.

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