A former adviser of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attributed the embarrassment during his India visit in 2018 to attempts by the Narendra Modi government to help Trudeau’s political opponents, a new book claims. The adviser claimed that Modi was “out to screw” Trudeau’s Liberal Party to help the Conservatives.

The book, Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister, was written by journalist John Ivison and will be released next week. Ivison’s employer, National Post, has published an article describing the book’s claims about Trudeau’s controversial visit to India in February 2018.

“We walked into a buzzsaw – Modi and his government were out to screw us and were throwing tacks under our tyres to help Canadian conservatives, who did a good job of embarrassing us,” Trudeau’s adviser Gerald Butts is quoted as claiming in the book, according to National Post.

Butts was Trudeau’s principal secretary at the time of the visit and is now working on the Liberal Party’s campaign to get re-elected in October’s polls. He made the remark in an interview, Ivison told the Hindustan Times.

Trudeau was on a week-long visit to India in February 2018. The visit was ridiculed and criticised for several reasons in India as well as in Canada. One major incident was the invitation to former Khalistani militant Jaspal Atwal to two functions, one in Mumbai and another in New Delhi. The invitation to the New Delhi function was rescinded after a furore, as it brought to the fore Canada’s soft stance on Sikh separatism.

Atwal debacle

In the book, Trudeau’s National Security Advisor Daniel Jean was quoted as saying that “elements within the Indian intelligence service may have been happy to see Jaspal Atwal embarrass Trudeau for being soft on Sikh separatism”.

During the visit itself, Jean had suggested that India’s intelligence service might have had an incentive to allow Atwal to enter the country to embarrass Trudeau for being soft on Sikh separatism. Trudeau appeared to agree with Jean, but India had then rubbished the suggestion that “factions within the Indian government” had orchestrated the Atwal debacle.

Any suggestion that Indian security agencies had a hand in inviting Atwal to the dinner is “baseless and unacceptable”, India’s Ministry of External Affairs had said.

Trudeau’s visit had started on a weak note as Modi did not personally welcome him on his arrival. This was perceived as a slight because of his alleged support for Sikh separatist Khalistani groups in his country. On the third day of his visit, Trudeau issued a statement, saying he supported “one united India” and this policy is “core to what Canada is”. Modi finally met him on the fifth day of his visit.