Seeking to downplay any misgiving over the invitation to SAARC leaders at Narendra Modi’s swearing-in, BJP on Saturday said the event is to showcase strength of India’s democracy and it should not be viewed through the prism of bilateral issues.
The invitation to heads of state of SAARC nations, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksha, has raised many eyebrows. Some parties say this is not the right time for holding talks with Pakistan, while the Tamil parties have asked BJP to rethink on inviting the Sri Lankan President.
“The invitation to all leaders of SAARC nations to be present at the ceremony is to showcase Indian democracy and its strength to the world at large. It is a democracy event. It should not be viewed through the prism of bilateral issues between countries,” BJP leader Arun Jaitley said.
He said the fact that India’s neighbours will be represented “reaffirms India’s faith in both democracy and greater integration of the region.” Jaitley said the general election has been a great celebration of Indian democracy, it being the world’s largest democratic election, and for it to be completed peacefully in a fair manner resulting in a democratic change of power is an occasion that does India proud.
He said the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister- designate Narendra Modi and his Council of Ministers on May 26 will be culmination of these celebrations, before the new government gets down to work.
Sources said Modi, after being appointed the Prime Minister, had conveyed to Rashtrapati Bhawan and the External mAffairs Ministry his desire that leaders of all SAARC nations be invited to attend his swearing-in.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.