NEW DELHI: While no formal invite has been sent yet, the government is considering a proposal to invite leaders from the neighbourhood, and perhaps even beyond, for PM Narendra Modi’s fresh swearing-in.
To underscore the significance of India’s Neighbourhood First policy, Modi is also likely to make a neighbouring country his first port of call after taking over as PM for the second time on May 30, official sources said.
Diplomatic sources in three Saarc countries told TOI that they were in touch with Indian authorities over the oath-taking ceremony but added they can confirm their participation only after Delhi finalises the programme and sends a formal invite.
Modi had invited all Saarc leaders, including then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, in 2014 for his inauguration. If the government does invite all Saarc leaders, it will be faced with the difficult decision of including, or not including, Pakistan PM Imran Khan in the guest list. At this stage though, according to official sources, it is unlikely that Khan will be invited.
“There is speculation in the media about invitations to foreign dignitaries for the swearing in ceremony. At the moment, we have no information on this matter. We will share details once a decision is taken,’’ said an official source. A report from Colombo said that Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was likely to attend the inauguration.
There was speculation that the first country Modi was likely to visit after his inauguration is Bhutan. Government sources, however, refused to confirm this. “The PM is likely to visit a country in the neighbourhood before he travels to Kyrgyzstan for the SCO summit in June but, as things have not yet been finalised yet, it’s not possible to confirm,’’ said a source.