The Shiv Sena has criticised US president Donald Trump for withdrawing India's status as a developing country a week ahead of his two-day visit to India from February 24, saying he is "bringing a box of bitter gourds instead of sweets".
The office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) had issued a notice earlier this week removing India and 24 other nations, including China, from the list of developing countries and listing it as a developed economy, making it ineligible for benefits given by Washington to developing countries, reports Hindustan Times.
The US move on Monday will also reduce the threshold for triggering an investigation into whether nations are harming American industries with unfairly subsidised exports, according to the USTR notice.
The Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana on Saturday that the move by the United States will lead to bhayankar dushparinam or grave consequences.
"The Trump administration has thrown a 'googly' by claiming India is now a developed country and not a developing one because India's global trade has increased by 0.5% and today India is part of the group of powerful countries called G20," the editorial said.
It also seemed to throw a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Our Prime Minister will surely find a way to turn this bitter news into sweet news," it said.
The editorial pointed out that India was far from the status of a developed country on parameters like health, education, employment, cleanliness and poverty alleviation and will not be able to avail subsidies and US tax benefits owing to its new position.
The move, it said, will be a big blow to India's trade with America and it will face grave consequences with its trade globally as well.
"The World Trade Organization (WTO) gives a lot of subsidies to developing countries. Trump could not see this. So he has removed India, China, and South Korea from the list of developing nations."
Trump starts his visit to India on February 24, aimed at rebuilding bonds between the world's largest democracies. A trade deal was seen as the chief goal for the trip when the two sides began planning the presidential trip.
The US is looking for greater access to the Indian market for its dairy producers and makers of medical devices and some other concessions, for a near-term deal, with the larger and more complex issues of a Free Trade Agreement and others kicked down the road to another time.
India, in return, is seeking the restorations of its benefits under a preferential US trade regime called the Generalized System of Preferences, which were terminated by the Trump administration last summer for India's refusal to concede more market access to US companies.
Trump suspended India's special trade designation last year that dated back to 1970s, after Modi put price caps on medical devices, such as cardiac stents and knee implants, and introduced new data localisation requirements and e-commerce restrictions.
The US president's trip to India has raised hopes that he would restore some of the country's US trade preferences, in exchange for tariff reductions and other concessions.
The editorial said it is even more shocking that the Trump government chose a time around the President's visit to India for the decision.
"Leaders make official visits to other countries and bring gifts with them. This is an old tradition which Trump has now broken. Whereas on the one hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who adheres to traditions, is preparing for a grand welcome for Trump, on the other, Trump is bringing a box of bitter gourds with him instead of bringing sweets," it said.
The editorial also said Trump's decision and timing was based on his "sole aim" to win the hearts of Americans ahead of the elections in the US scheduled for the end of the year.
"He has made this move to ease American industrialists but has broken the back of Indian businessmen in the process," Saamana said.